California state health officials said Friday that two people in the state have been infected with West Nile virus and urged people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The infections were reported in San Joaquin and Contra Costa counties.
So far this year, West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes and birds in 19 California counties. Fresno County has reported both infected birds and mosquitoes and Madera and Tulare counties have reported infected mosquitoes.
The risk of serious illness from West Nile virus is low, but about 1% can develop a serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. And older adults have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.
The infected patient from Contra Costa has recovered and been released from the hospital, and the patient from San Joaquin County tested positive for the virus but has not shown any symptoms, said Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the California Department of Public Health and state health officer.
"These reported West Nile virus cases remind us that taking a few minutes to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites can make a big difference," Chapman said.
To prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus:
- Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
- Wear protective clothing and repellent if outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active. Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
- Eliminate or drain all sources of standing water where mosquitoes can lay eggs. Report neglected swimming pools to mosquito and vector control agencies.
- Report dead birds at www.westnile.ca.gov or call (877) 968-2473.
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