A 43-year-old Santee man has the first confirmed local case of West Nile virus (WNV) in 2014, the County Health and Human Services Agency reported today. This is the first local human case since 2012.
The man had no symptoms, but the virus was detected during routine screening of blood he had donated earlier this month. The man did not recall any recent mosquito bites, but he had been camping outside the state the week before his blood was drawn.
The County’s Department of Environmental Health Vector Control Program is inspecting for potential mosquito breeding locations near the man’s home and setting up mosquito monitoring traps in the surrounding areas of Santee.
“Even though it’s most likely this individual acquired West Nile outside of the county, we know the virus is here in San Diego County,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County Public Health Officer. “Vector Control collected a dead crow reported by the public in the City of San Diego last week that has also tested positive for West Nile.
“It’s important for the public to know West Nile virus is a dangerous and potentially deadly disease.”
The California Department of Public Health reported 15 West Nile virus-related fatalities in the state last year, but there have been no deaths in the eleven human cases confirmed so far this season. Most people are infected with the virus from June through October; with “peak season” in August and September.
Of those who become infected with West Nile virus, 80 percent will have no symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop only a mild illness that includes a headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rash or swollen glands. One in 150 (less than 1 percent) of those infected will have serious neurologic complications that can be life threatening. The risk of complications increases for those over age 50, and for people with weakened immune systems.
Health officials urge people to protect themselves by practicing “Prevent, Protect, Report.”
- Prevent Mosquito Breeding: Dump out or remove any backyard item that can hold water, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, buckets, garbage cans, toys, old tires and wheelbarrows. Mosquito fish, available for free from Vector Control, may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as neglected swimming pools, ponds, fountains and water troughs.
- Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from West Nile virus by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active, between dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured.
- Report Dead Birds and Green Swimming Pools: Please report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, and green pools to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Remember, you can help stop West Nile virus in San Diego County by downloading the “Fight the Bite!” app to anonymously report green swimming pools, mosquito breeding areas and dead birds. For more information about West Nile Virus, go to San Diego County’s “Fight the Bite” website.