Threat of West Nile disease increases in Stanislaus County as first cases are reported

·2 min read
(Kathy Keatley Garvey / UC Davis)

Stanislaus County health officials said three people have been infected with the West Nile virus. The presence of the virus this summer also was confirmed in mosquito samples.

A county Health Services Agency news release Thursday didn’t provide the medical condition or other details on the three people who tested positive. The East Side and Turlock mosquito abatement districts confirmed West Nile in two mosquito samples.

Stanislaus County has three of the seven confirmed human cases of the illness in California. Monitoring has detected the virus in 23 counties in the state, with 60 dead birds and 965 mosquito samples testing positive.

Symptoms of the more mild West Nile illness include a fever, headache and fatigue that might last for weeks. Fewer than 1% of people infected by a mosquito bite develop a potentially deadly or otherwise severe illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Last month, county public health officials confirmed a case of St. Louis encephalitis, a disease also transmitted by infected mosquitoes.

“Mosquito and virus activity has been lighter in many areas of the county this year; however, this positive mosquito sample reminds us of the importance of being proactive in preventing mosquito breeding around our homes,” General Manager David Heft of the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District said in the news release.

“The current higher temperatures will accelerate the development of West Vile virus in mosquitoes,” Heft said.

As the virus becomes more of a local threat, the abatement districts are urging people to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites. Use insect repellent when going outside in the morning and evening hours when mosquitoes are flying about.

Other precautions can be taken, such as tipping and tossing sources of standing water around the home, using tight-fitting door and window screens and reporting neglected swimming pools where mosquitoes breed, the county news release said.

Horses are vulnerable to West Nile infections. Owners are advised to ask their veterinarian about vaccinations.

Stanislaus County residents, north of the Tuolumne River, can request service for mosquito problems by calling Eastside Mosquito Abatement District at 209-522-4098. The Turlock Mosquito Abatement District can be reached at 209-634-1234.