The first human cases of West Nile virus this year in the Sacramento region have surfaced in Placer County, where one Roseville resident and two Lincoln residents have tested positive.
All three patients – two adults and a child – came down with meningitis earlier this month. They were hospitalized, tested positive in the hospital and are now recovering.
Symptoms of West Nile virus can include headaches, body aches, fever and stiff necks. Disease can set in about two weeks after a bite by an infected mosquito.
The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
Dr. Richard Burton, the health officer and director of Placer County Health and Human Services, said West Nile cases can be avoided if people take simple precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
The Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three D’s:”
DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
Dawn and dusk – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
Drain – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including draining flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact the Placer district at (888) 768-2343.
The California Department of Public Health reported Tuesday that 44 people from 15 counties have tested positive for West Nile virus during 2012. The state’s website – www.westnile.ca.gov – includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state.
Horses are particularly vulnerable to West Nile virus, and the mortality rate for unvaccinated horses is very high, officials said. Owners should contact their veterinarians about protective immunizations. West Nile does not spread directly between humans and horses.
Residents are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels at the state website or by calling toll-free (877) WNV-BIRD (968-2473).
For information about local mosquitoes and mosquito-control efforts, contact the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District at (888) 768-2343 or visit www.placermosquito.org.
In Sacramento and Yolo County, call the Sacramento and Yolo Mosquito and Vector Control District at (800) 429-1022 for the latest updates on spraying insecticides to control mosquito populations. Or, visit the website www.fightthebite.net.