The San Joaquin County Public Health Services has confirmed that a 51 year old male living in Stockton is the first human diagnosed with West Nile virus (WNV) infection in San Joaquin County this year. He reportedly developed a mild form of the infection and has recovered fully without medical intervention.
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not get sick and the risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, approximately one percent of individuals can develop a serious neurologic illness (neuro-invasive disease) such as encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age and older and those with diabetes and hypertension have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications.
For signs or symptoms of serious infection such as severe headaches, a stiff neck, disorientation or confusion, seek medical attention right away. A serious infection generally requires hospitalization. Treatment is supportive for patients with neuro-invasive West Nile virus, often involving hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections. At this point in time there is no cure or vaccine for West Nile virus.
In San Joaquin County in 2017, there were 14 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus, 64% were neuro-invasive.
The most effective way to prevent West Nile virus infection is to avoid being bitten by an infected mosquito. This can be accomplished by three measures:
- DRAIN: all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding. Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. Ensure that swimming pools and spas are properly maintained. Consider including Mosquitofish in ornamental ponds and fountains.
- AVOID: outdoor activity at peak times when mosquitoes are most active - early morning and evening.
- PROTECT: yourself by wearing long sleeve shirts and pants during peak biting times and by using insect repellant containing the active ingredient DEET.