One case recorded in Porterville
West Nile Virus (WNV) has been confirmed as the cause of illness for two Tulare County residents, including one from Porterville, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency (TCHHSA) announced Wednesday.
Two additional residents are being tested for the illness, and according to TCHHSA spokesperson Tammie M. Weyker, one of those tests is expected to come back positive.
The West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, and there is no vaccine or medication to treat the virus. The two, and likely three cases of West Nile, are the first in Tulare County this year. Only one other human case of West Nile has been reported in the state this year and that person in Nevada County died from the illness a week ago.
“This death is a tragic reminder of how severe West Nile virus disease can be,” said Dr. Karen Smith. “West Nile virus activity is more widespread in 2015 than in years past. Californians need to be vigilant in protecting themselves.”
Last year, Tulare County had 21 human cases of the disease, compared to five in 2013 and seven in 2012.
Weyker said health officials are very concerned with the West Nile findings already this summer. So far, 18 dead birds have been found to have died from West Nile, and 74 mosquito pools in the county have tested positive.
“They (Delta Vector Control District) really feel this is a serious situation today,” said Weyker.
Most people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms. However, WNV can affect the central nervous system and about one in five people will develop a fever along with other symptoms.
According to the California Department of Public Health, levels of illness vary:
- No symptoms: approximately 80 percent of individuals infected with WNV will show no symptoms.
- Mild symptoms: fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms generally last for a few days in up to 20 percent of individuals.
- Serious symptoms: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. In less than one percent of individuals, symptoms may last several weeks, neurological effects may be permanent, and WNV infection can be fatal.
As of July 28, Delta Vector Control District has found 266 mosquito samples that have tested positive for WNV. The samples indicate wide-spread WNV activity in Visalia, Farmersville, Woodlake, Dinuba, Goshen, Exeter, Traver, Ivanhoe, Cutler and Orosi, along with outlying county areas.
Due to this increased activity, Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught strongly encourages residents to always:
- use an effective mosquito repellent with DEET. Always follow label instructions carefully.
- dress in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk, and in areas where mosquitoes are active.
- drain standing water or pools that may foster mosquitoes.
- repair or replace door and window screens that have tears or holes.
- contact the nearest mosquito abatement district if you see areas of standing water that may be a breeding area for mosquitoes.
Residents can help health officials track the West Nile Virus by reporting all dead birds and squirrels to 1-877-968-2473, or submitting an online report to the California West Nile website at westnile.ca.gov/.
Residents can get free mosquito fish for backyard ponds or water features by calling 877-732-8606 or by visiting www.DeltaVCD.com.