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Solano County health officials announce first human case of West Nile virus infection of 2012
September 10, 2012
A North County man in his 50s has been identified as the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in Solano County for 2012, public health officials reported Monday, Sept. 10.
"He is currently being treated at a local hospital and is in stable condition" said Bela T. Matyas, MD, MPH, Health Officer/Deputy Director, Health and Social Services Department, Solano County.
As of Sept. 5, 2012, the California Department of Public Health reports that there have been 75 human cases of WNV from 17 counties across the state. There have been four WNV-related deaths reported in California in 2012. At this time last year there were 33 human cases in California. This increase in WNV activity this year is occurring in many places across the country.
"It's important to remember that 80 percent of people (or four out of five) who are infected with WNV will have no symptoms. The others (nearly one out of five) will usually develop West Nile fever and notice mild, flu-like symptoms. Less than one percent of those infected will develop severe neurological disease," explained Michael Stacey, MD, Chief Medical Officer/Deputy Health Officer.
Symptoms of West Nile fever include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands and eye pain. The most severe forms of WNV infection affect the central nervous system causing meningitis and encephalitis.
Although anyone can become ill from WNV infection, people over the age of 50 are more likely to get sick and to develop serious illness. West Nile virus is rarely life threatening.
"Anyone who experiences unusually severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion or seizures should seek medical care," Dr. Stacey emphasized. "There is presently no vaccine or effective antiviral treatment available to combat WNV in humans, but in severe cases hospitalization can help to provide supportive care and control symptoms."
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are WNV carriers that become infected when they feed on infected birds. The mosquito is the essential link for infection to pass from birds to humans. Humans cannot get WNV directly from birds.
"The best strategy to avoid contracting WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. I strongly urge the public to practice the five D’s of prevention," Dr. Matyas added.
Dawn and dusk—wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts when you are going to be outdoors at these times.
Solano County Mosquito Abatement District (SCMAD) regularly traps and tests groups of mosquitoes for various diseases, as one of many steps they take to control the mosquito population.
- DEET—use insect repellent that contains DEET according to packaging directions (the non-DEET alternatives picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are also approved by the EPA).
- Doors and windows—make sure screens are tight-fitting and doors close completely.
- Drain standing water around your house and use mosquito fish in such areas as ornamental ponds and horse troughs.
- Dead birds—report dead birds and squirrels online at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).
"We are vigilantly working to control the mosquito population in Solano County. However, unmaintained swimming pools due to home foreclosures have become a problem statewide and can potentially produce the types of mosquitoes that spread WNV. If you have seen a neglected pool, please report it to us at (707) 437-1116," said Jon Blegen, Solano County Mosquito Abatement District Manager.
This is the first human case in Solano County since 2008. In 2006 there were eight cases and one each in years 2007 and 2008. To date this season, there have been 20 confirmed WNV positive birds in Solano County: nine in Dixon, two in Vacaville, one in Suisun City, two in Fairfield and one in Vallejo. The remaining five birds were found in the unincorporated area of the county near Vacaville. Out of the groups of mosquitoes trapped and tested, one in Dixon and two in Vacaville were infected with the virus.
Additional information about WNV can be found on the Internet at www.westnile.ca.gov or www.cdc.gov.