San Joaquin County Public Health Services recently confirmed a 74-year-old woman from Stockton is the first case of West Nile virus (WNV) in San Joaquin County this year. The woman was hospitalized in September and later passed away; cause of death is unconfirmed at this time. As of Oct. 8, 2021, there were 70 confirmed human cases of WNV for the state of California.
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who become infected do not get sick, and the risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, about one percent of individuals can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People most at risk for infection and complications include those 50 years of age and older and individuals with diabetes, hypertension, or underlying health conditions.
Be aware of symptoms of serious infection such as severe headaches, stiff neck, disorientation or confusion. Seek medical attention right away. A serious infection generally requires hospitalization to provide intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections. At this time, there is no cure or vaccine for WNV.
The most effective way to prevent West Nile virus infection is to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito. Take these three precautions:
DRAIN… standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property – including flowerpots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. Ensure swimming pools and spas are properly maintained. Consider including Mosquitofish in ornamental ponds and fountains.
AVOID… outdoor activity at peak times when mosquitoes are most active – early morning and evening.
PROTECT… yourself by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants during peak biting times. Also apply EPA-registered insect repellent containing one of these active ingredients: DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus (OLE) or Para-menthane-diol (PMD) when outdoors, according to label instructions.
Additionally, if you find a dead bird (especially a crow, jay, magpie, raven, sparrow or hawk), report it online. Report significant mosquito infestations and daytime biting mosquitoes to San Joaquin County Mosquito & Vector Control District at www.sjmosquito.org, (209) 982-4675, or 1-800-300-4675. For current information and resources on WNV, visit westnile.ca.gov.