First West Nile death reported in California

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (KRON) – A person in San Luis Obispo County is the first Californian to die in 2021 from West Nile virus, according to the California Department of Public Health.

Health officials say humans and animals get the virus from infected mosquitoes.

The virus has been found in 45 dead birds across six counties and 177 mosquito samples in 13 counties, as of July 9.

Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control District reported on July 2 that a group of mosquitos in the area had tested positive.

The Marin/Sonoma Mosquito Vector Control also reported on July 6 that a dead crow in Santa Rosa had tested positive.

There is an increased risk of the virus being transmitted as the temperatures continue to rise.

According to health officials, the risk of having a serious illness is low to most people, but less than 1-percent can contract a serious neurologic illness.

Those with a high chance of getting the virus include people 50 years and older, or who have diabetes or hypertension.

“West Nile virus activity in the state is increasing, so I urge Californians to take every possible precaution to protect against mosquito bites,” said Dr. Tomás J. Aragón, Director of the California Department of Public Health and State Public Health Officer.

People are advised to protect themselves against mosquito bites by:

  1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. Insect repellents should not be used on children under two months of age.
  2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that transmit WNV usually bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property by emptying flower pots, old car tires, buckets, and other containers. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency.

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