San Joaquin County Public Health Services reports the county’s first West Nile Virus (WNV) related death for 2014, is that of a woman in her 60s from the northern rural area of the county.
“This unfortunate death reminds us of the potential danger from mosquito bites and West Nile Virus,” said Dr. Alvaro Garza, San Joaquin County Public Health Officer. As of Friday, Oct.17, there have been eight human cases of WNV reported in San Joaquin County so far this year. Last year, San Joaquin County reported eight human cases with one death.
West Nile Virus is most commonly transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. The San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District is still finding WNV activity in the mosquito population in the county.
The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than one percent of those infected – will develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. Individuals 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms. Studies also show that people with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greater risk for serious illness.
Health officials recommend the most effective way for individuals to prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus is to practice the following tips (remember, the “Four D’s”):
DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions to keep mosquitoes from biting you. Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing. DEET can be used safely on infants and children two months of age and older.
DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that carry WNV tend to bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
DRESS – Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure to mosquito bites (i.e., long pants and long-sleeved shirts).
DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including buckets, old car tires, and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae. Neglected swimming pools are also prime habitat for mosquito development. The San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District is available to help with neglected pools in the prevention of mosquito development. To request District service, call 209-982-4675, 1-800-300-4675 or visit the District website at www.sjmosquito.org.
California’s West Nile Virus website at www.westnile.ca.gov/ includes the latest information on West Nile activity in the state. Residents are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473).
For additional information on West Nile Virus, visit the following websites:
San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District, www.sjmosquito.org; San Joaquin County Public Health Services, www.sjcphs.org/emprep/WestNileVirus.aspx; California Department of Public Health, www.westnile.ca.gov/; or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html.