A man from Alpine has been confirmed to be the first person in San Diego County in 2020 to test positive for the West Nile virus, the County Health and Human Services announced Wednesday.
The California Department of Public Health confirmed the case on Aug. 11. after the man, 61, was hospitalized and tested for the virus. He has since recovered.
Health officials said the man had traveled to Yuma, Arizona, where it is believed he had contracted the virus.
There have been only three human cases of West Nile virus in San Diego County in 2019 and two in 2018, County officials said.
Since Jan. 1, 2020, there have been two West Nile virus positive detections in mosquitoes during routine trapping by the County Vector Control Program. One detection happened in the Del Mar area and the other in the Black Mountain Ranch area.
Although West Nile virus is commonly found in a variety of birds, it can also be transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
There are no vaccines to prevent West Nile virus or medications to treat the disease.
County health officials say 20% of those who are infected suffer symptoms, which include fever, headache, nausea, fatigue, skin rash or swollen glands. But, in rare cases – like one in 150 infected people, according to the CDC – the disease can turn deadly.
The CDC says most cases of West Nile virus happen during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and runs through fall.
So, San Diego County health officials are reminding people to protect themselves from mosquitoes by dumping out standing water in and around homes, as standing water is where mosquitoes like to breed.
This includes water in plant saucers – inside and outside – rain gutters, buckets, trash cans, toys, and wheelbarrows. Because people are spending more time at home due to the coronavirus pandemic, residents may be more vulnerable to mosquito bites, officials said, so getting rid of any standing water is key.
Locals can report mosquito activity to the county here and should also follow the county’s guidelines of “Prevent, Protect, Report” when it comes to the virus. Stagnant, green pools or dead birds – both mosquito-breeding sources – can also be reported to the Vector Control Program at (858) 694-2888 or via email at email@example.com. The county’s Vector Control Program will also give out mosquito fish, for free, which can be used to control mosquito breeding in pools, ponds, and fountains.