A child in Orange County has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, becoming the first case confirmed by the human county of mosquito infection this year, health officials announced on Monday.
Authorities have not released any other information about the patient, who is recovering after being hospitalized with the virus, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The diagnosis was confirmed last week.
As of Friday, California had 10 reported human cases of the Nile West virus this year, according to the state Department of Public Health.
Last year, Orange County had seven confirmed human infections, one of which resulted in death, the health care agency said.
In June, Mosquito County and Vector Control from Orange County County noted that some areas of the region had experienced an increase in mosquito activity for six consecutive weeks. At the time, this year’s mosquito count was already nearly five times higher than last year and twice the county’s five-year average.
“The high abundance of mosquitoes is a factor that increases the risk of transmitting the Nile West (WNV) virus when virus activity is present,”; explained Robert Cummings, director of the Scientific Services district at the time.
The following month, Orange County confirmed its first Nile West virus infections of the year in mosquitoes found in three cities.
Blood-sucking insects can transmit the virus to humans through a single bite. While most infected people will not experience any system, about 20% will develop a fever and other side effects, including
headache, body aches, vomiting, fatigue and, occasionally, a rash.
But in rare cases, the disease can lead to more serious symptoms, such neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or even paralysis. The disease can be deadly to some.
The increased risk for serious complications from the virus is generally associated with certain medical conditions and in those over the age of 50, according to officials.
“The West Nile Virus is endemic to Orange County, recurring every year during the summer months and continuing into the fall,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, county health official, said in the announcement. “The best way to avoid Nile West virus infection is to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.”
These measures include emptying all water-filled containers, including the pet water bowl and bird baths, on a weekly basis to reduce potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes. It is also important to make sure the windows and door screens are in good condition, preventing annoying insects from coming inside.
It is also recommended that people apply mosquito repellents on exposed skin before going outside, and wear a repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus oil, officials said. Wearing long-sleeved blouses and long pants while outdoors can also help prevent bug bites.
More information can be found by visiting www.ocveector.org.
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