A La Mesa man was recently hospitalized with West Nile virus and an El Cajon woman, who was treated as an outpatient, is listed as probably having the virus, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported today.
The 73-year-old man is currently recovering in a rehabilitation facility after being admitted for meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain and surrounding tissue that can result from West Nile virus infection. The 44-year-old woman has recovered from her illness, which included flu-like symptoms with a rash. Both individuals reported having been bitten by mosquitoes near their homes before becoming ill.
“West Nile virus is a dangerous and potentially deadly disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County public health officer. “It’s important for the public to protect against West Nile virus by taking precautions, including avoiding outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, and using insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.”
Four out of five people who become infected with West Nile virus do not have symptoms. Most of those who become ill have a mild illness of headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rash, or swollen glands. One in 150 of those infected with the virus will have serious neurologic complications that can be life threatening. The risk of complications increases for those over age 50, and people with weakened immune systems.
The County Department of Environmental Health (DEH) Vector Control is reporting that three birds tested positive for West Nile virus in the El Cajon area.
“Vector Control is doing extra trappings in the area and conducting inspections of all known sources for mosquito breeding,” said Environmental Health Director Elizabeth Pozzebon. “The majority of birds that tested positive for West Nile virus this year are from the El Cajon area. We will be sending notifications to residents in the vicinity where human cases have been reported.”
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, may be used to control mosquito breeding in backyard water sources such as unused swimming pools, ponds, fountains and horse troughs.
- Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites: Protect yourself from West Nile virus by staying inside when mosquitoes are most active, at dusk and dawn. Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors. Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when outside. Make sure screens on windows and doors are in good condition and secured to keep insects out.
- Report Dead Birds and Green Swimming Pools: Report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, and green swimming pools to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals can also sign up to receive text messages to get the latest West Nile virus updates via mobile telephone by simply texting the word PEST to the number 75309 on a cellphone. For more information about West Nile virus, go to San Diego County’s “Fight the Bite” website.