Santa Clara County is reporting this year's first human cases of West Nile Virus.
Five residents in the county have been infected with the virus, according to Santa Clara health officials.
Two of them had the more severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, West Nile encephalitis. One had West Nile Fever and the other two had no symptoms.
Of the three people with symptoms. two were hospitalized and released, and one is currently hospitalized. All five residents live in areas which reported high West Nile Virus activity this year.
Unlike last year, when West Nile activity in birds and mosquitoes were concentrated in Milpitas and East San Jose, this year it is concentrated in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Cupertino, Campbell and west and south San Jose.
"It is important to remember most people who get a mosquito bite will not become infected, will not develop symptoms and will not need to seek care," said Dr. Sara Cody, Health Officer for Santa Clara County. "But in some cases, West Nile can cause serious illness. To reduce the risk of West Nile, residents should take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."
Last year, there were only two human cases of West Nile virus in the county.
Health officials warn the risk of getting West Nile virus will be especially high over the next two months.
Information on West Nile Virus:
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of becoming seriously ill is low for most people. Less than 1 percent of people can develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People over the age of 50 have a higher chance of becoming ill. In addition, people with diabetes or hypertension have a greater risk of complications and serious illness.
After someone is bitten, the incubation period is generally 2 to 6 days, but it can be as many as 14 days. Most people are infected between June and September, when it is warm outside and mosquitoes are most active. People can take steps to protect themselves from contracting West Nile Virus, including:
-- Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon, eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
-- Dress in long sleeves and pants if you are outside from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.
-- Be sure to install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. If you have air conditioning, use it.
-- Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.
-- Report any mosquito breeding sources to the Santa Clara County Vector Control District or (408) 918-4770.
Information courtesy of Santa Clara Valley Health & Hospital System.