A 73-year-old man from Del Mar is the first confirmed locally-acquired case of West Nile Virus in San Diego County during 2015, announced the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency Monday.
On August 2nd the man was admitted to the hospital after experiencing symptoms of encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain that is related to viral and bacterial infections.
After the California Department of Public Health Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory performed tests, they confirmed the man had contracted West Nile Virus.
Carried by mosquitoes, West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans when a mosquito feeds on an infected bird and then bites a human.
Staff from the County Department of Environmental Health Vector Control Program performed tests around the Del Mar man’s house to check for potential sources of mosquito breeding and notified nearby residents.
While this is the first confirmed human infection in 2015, 95 dead birds and 18 batches of mosquitoes have been identified as infected by the Vector Control Program. This is a significant increase from last year, where only 41 dead birds and 6 mosquito batches were confirmed positive in 2014.
Last year 11 county residents were diagnosed with disease and two died. However, 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile experience no symptoms. Twenty percent of people who do get sick have mild symptoms such as nausea, fever, fatigue, headache and swollen glands.
Serious neurological complications only occur in one out of 150 cases. The risk of life threatening complications greatly increases in people over the age of 50 and people with weakened immune systems.
“The late summer is when we expect West Nile virus to peak, and there were cases diagnosed through October last year, so people need to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H., County public health officer.
Country officials recommend that residents prevent mosquito breeding by dumping containers inside and outside the home that can hold still water, such as plant saucers, rain gutters, garbage cans and buckets, because mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
If residents have unused swimming pools or ponds the Vector Control Program is providing free mosquito-eating fish to help control the mosquito population.
Additionally, officials recommend staying inside during peak mosquito activity, around dusk and dawn. Insect repellant that contains DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 is best to keep mosquitoes away when spending time outdoors.
Dead birds and green swimming pools should be reported to the Control program at (858) 694-2888 or by emailing email@example.com.