Health officials believe two East County patients have contracted West Nile virus after they were both bitten by mosquitoes near their homes.
A 73-year-old La Mesa man has been hospitalized with a confirmed case of the virus, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported Friday. He was admitted for an infection of the brain and its surrounding tissue – a problem resulting from West Nile.
A 44-year-old El Cajon woman received outpatient treatment for flu-like symptoms with a rash, and doctors say she probably had the disease as well.
The HHSA says four out of five people who contract the virus do not show symptoms, and 1 in 150 of those infected will have serious, potentially deadly neurological complications. The greatest risk is among people over 50 years old and those with weakened immune systems.
Less severe symptoms include headache, fever, swollen glands, nausea, skin rash and fatigue.
In July, a Santee man who showed no signs of the disease tested positive for it in a routine blood screening. His was the first confirmed, local case of West Nile since 2012.
Health officials recommend protecting yourself and your family using a three-step system: prevent, protect and report.
Prevent mosquito breeding by emptying any backyard item like pots, buckets or rain gutters that can hold stagnant water. Free mosquito fish can help control mosquito breeding in pools, ponds and fountains.
Protect yourself from mosquito bites by using insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 when you’re spending time outside, and make sure all your screens are secure.
Finally, report dead crows, ravens, jays, hawks and owls, as well as green swimming pools, to the Vector Control Program at 858-694-2888. Dead birds could carry West Nile virus. At least three have tested positive for the disease in El Cajon.