A 60-year-old local woman was infected with the neuroinvasive form of West Nile Virus on July 22, Stanislaus County health officials confirmed Wednesday.
The case was the first confirmed human West Nile Virus infection in Stanislaus County this year. The virus had previously been found in 22 mosquito samples, six dead birds, two sentinel chickens, and a horse.
West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus, originally from Uganada and now endemic to Stanislaus County. Roughly 80 percent of West Nile Virus infections cause no symptoms, while most of the remaining cases lead to symptoms much like a common cold.
The virus can, however, have severe neurological effects in less than one percent of cases, primarily when infecting the elderly, very young, or those with suppressed immune systems. The virus can lead to inflammation of the brain, inflammation of the membranes which protect the brain and spinal cord, or inflammation of the spinal cord, which can lead to paralysis.
The local human infection was confirmed by the California Department of Public Health Viral and Rickettsial Disease Laboratory.
The woman lives in the area served by the East Side Mosquito Abatement District, which includes Stanislaus County cities north of the Tuolumne River. Turlock and other cities south of the river are served by the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District.
The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District specifically has detected West Nile Virus in one dead bird and 10 mosquito samples.
The district has noticed increased mosquito activity in Turlock, officials said, and will be spraying between 3 a.m. and 5: 30 a.m. on Friday. Residents should stay indoors during spraying, and may wish to close windows to prevent spray from entering homes. The chemical being used is pyrethin, the same as is used in home mosquito sprays.
To report suspected mosquito breeding grounds to the Turlock Mosquito Abatemant District, call (209) 634-1234 or visit www.mosquitoturlock.com. To report dead birds, which can carry the virus, call (877) 968-2473 or visit www.westnile.ca.gov.
For more information on West Nile Virus, call the Stanislaus County West Nile Virus Hotline at (209) 558-8425.
West Nile Tips from Stanislaus County:
• Eliminate sources of standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs.
• Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, and especially for the first two hours after sunset.
• When outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing.
• Exclude mosquitoes from your home with tight fitting screens on doors and windows.
• Apply insect repellent containing the active ingredient DEET when outdoors, according to label instructions.
• In addition to DEET-based products, the Centers for Disease Control also recommends insect repellants containing oil of lemon eucalyptus and Picaridin.