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West Nile Virus claims two lives in California
Six people sickened in Stanislaus County
mosquito
Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control - photo by Photo courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control

California has recorded two deaths linked to West Nile Virus, marking the first fatalities from the mosquito-borne disease this season.

The deaths were of residents in Yuba and Glenn counties, according to the California Department of Public Health.

“We are still in a peak period of West Nile virus transmission in the state so we urge everyone to take every possible precaution to protect themselves against mosquito bites,” said CDPH Director and State Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith.
As of Sept. 7, CDPH has reported 56 human cases of WNV from 21 California counties this year. Additionally, 422 dead birds from 18 counties have tested positive for WNV in 2018, and 1,606 mosquito samples from 28 counties have also tested positive for WNV this year.

In Stanislaus County there have been six residents officially diagnosed with WNV. There has been one equine case and one dead bird that tested positive in the county. Ninety-three mosquito samples in Stanislaus County have been confirmed WNV positive. At least 47 of those mosquito samples were found in the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District’s coverage area.

Mosquitoes become infected with West Nile Virus when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread West Nile Virus to humans and other animals when they bite, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die, according to the CDC.  People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.
There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent West Nile Virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks or months. In the neuroinvasive forms, patients can suffer severe and sometimes long-term symptoms.

People 60 years of age and older and individuals with diabetes or hypertension have a higher chance of getting sick, and are more likely to develop complications.
CDPH recommends that individuals protect against mosquito bites and WNV by practicing the “Three Ds”:
DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. Insect repellents should not be used on children under two months of age.
DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile Virus usually bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property by emptying flower pots, old car tires, buckets, and other containers. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.

Reporting and testing of dead birds is an important step in preventing West Nile Virus. A confirmed case of the virus in dead birds or mosquito samples helps to identify areas that need treatment to reduce mosquito activity. To report a dead bird, call the California State hotline at 1-877-WNV-BIRD or report it online at www.westnile.ca.gov. Birds of particular interest are crows, ravens, magpies, jays and raptors (hawk or eagle).
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District is available to help with neglected pools in the prevention of mosquito development. To request District
service, call 634- or visit the District website at http://www.turlockmosquito.org/