SACRAMENTO (KRON) — State health officials say two Californians are dead so far this summer from the West Nile Virus.
One of the victims is a senior citizen from Sacramento County while the second is an adult from Shasta County.
They were among the 35 Californians who have been diagnosed with West Nile in 2014, according to health officials. Sixteen of the cases were reported to the state this week.
Only 18 people had contracted the virus by this time last year.
“These unfortunate deaths remind us that we must protect ourselves from mosquito bites to prevent West Nile virus and other mosquito born infections,” said State Health Department Director Dr. Ron Chapman says in a written statement. “West Nile virus activity is greatest during the summertime.”
Mosquitos infected with the virus bite humans and that’s how it’s spread officials say. Many local governments around the Bay Area have instituted spraying programs and efforts to find poorly maintained pools and other standing water where mosquitoes breed.
Even if an infected mosquito bites you, officials say the risk that you will get sick or die are very low.
People over the age of 50 are at the greatest risk, Dr. Chapman adds.
So far the virus has been detected in 36 California counties in 2014.
State health officials say the best ways to protect yourself are to use insect repellents containing DEET, to avoid going outside near dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active and draining any standing water.
What is West Nile virus?
West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. West Nile virus can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
West Nile virus transmission has been documented in Europe and the Middle East, Africa, India, parts of Asia, and Australia. It was first detected in North America in 1999, and has since spread across the continental United States and Canada.
Is there a vaccine available to protect people from West Nile virus?
No. Currently there is no West Nile virus vaccine available for people. Many scientists are working on this issue, and there is hope that a vaccine will become available in the future.
How soon do people get sick after getting bitten by an infected mosquito?
The incubation period is usually 2 to 6 days but ranges from 2 to 14 days. This period can be longer in people with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system.
WEST NILE SYMPTOMS
West Virus is transmitted to humans and animals by infected mosquitoes. Chapman says residents can take steps to protect themselves by staying away from standing pools of water and wearing chemical insect repellant.
According to the CDC, Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.
Mild disease, generally called West Nile fever, may cause some or all of the following symptoms:
- Abdominal pain.
- Lack of appetite.
- Muscle aches.
- Discovery of West Nile Virus Leads to Mosquito Abatement
- VIDEO: West Nile Cases Spike in the Bay Area
- One of California’s First Two Confirmed Human West Nile Cases Reported in Bay Area
- West Nile Cases Spike in Eastern CoCo
Mobile App users click here to view the video
(Copyright 2014, KRON 4, All rights reserved.)