A 70-year-old Kern County woman is the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus infection in California this year, according to a Monday report from the California Department of Public Health.
“This first confirmed West Nile virus case reminds us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Ron Chapman, state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health. “West Nile virus activity is greatest during the summertime.”
The woman was hospitalized, but is now recovering, health officials reported.
So far, no West Nile Virus activity has been confirmed in Lake County, according to the state.
To date in 2012, West Nile virus has been detected in 15 California counties, compared to eight counties by this time in 2011, according to the California West Nile Virus Web site, www.westnile.ca.gov/ .
West Nile activity across the state is more serious this year, with 98 dead birds and 124 mosquito samples compared to 12 dead birds and six mosquito samples during the same timeframe in 2011, the state reported. There had been no human cases by this point in 2011.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito.
The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications.
Recent data also indicates that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”:
- DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
- DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
- DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.
California’s West Nile virus Web site, www.westnile.ca.gov/ , includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state.
Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the Web site or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473).