West Nile Virus in the Valley

June 20, 2008 9:27:37 PM PDT
The California Department of Public Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile Virus in California this year and it's in the south valley.Health officials say about 80% of people who get West Nile never even feel any symptoms. The West Nile victim here in Visalia didn't remember getting bit but became sick from the virus. She's now recovering. Large, old trees that stand close together like the ones you see here are where mosquitoes are most likely to gather.

These pesky insects are known to leave an itchy reminder of their bite. They also can carry the potentially deadly West Nile Virus. After numerous reports of dead birds with West Nile, local health officials say a woman in Visalia was diagnosed with the virus. Health officials have not revealed the woman's name, or which part of the city she lived in.

Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare Co. Health Dept.: "This patient was not hospitalized and is improving."

Local mosquito abatement agency Delta Vector says mosquitoes tend to gather in old, tall trees that are close together. They also lay eggs in standing water like abandoned pools. This year, Delta Vector has made more than 400 calls to check out vacant pools in the area.

Yolanda Lourenco, Delta Vector Control District: "Well it's higher than we've ever had in the past and then of course because of foreclosures I'm sure that's contributed greatly to the increase in the number of pools that we are treating currently."

West Nile Virus symptoms can be similar to the flu: sore throat, fever, headache, vomiting and muscle weakness. And in rare cases, it can cause death.

Yolanda: "It can amplify into say swelling of the brain and meningitis and things like lasting paralysis."

To protect yourself, health officials advise one simple thing avoid mosquitoes.

Haught: "It's important to avoid the dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most prevalent it's important to keep screens in your doors and windows it's important to drain any standing water so that you don't have a breeding ground for mosquitoes."

Delta Vector said they found 22 dead birds who had West Nile Virus just in the past month so they weren't too surprised when this case came along.


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