Two people, a 74-year-old Riverside woman and 50-year-old Eastvale man, have been confirmed as the first human cases of West Nile Virus in Riverside County this year, according to the county’s public health officer Dr. Cameron Kaiser.
These appear to be among the first few cases of the virus statewide this year. The California Department of Public Health listed the number of West Nile Virus cases for 2018 as “zero.” A spokesman was not available to confirm that number Thursday.
Riverside County’s public health department issued a statement Thursday June 14 stating the illnesses were confirmed this week based on test results and other clinical information.
Both patients who were afflicted with the virus required hospitalization, but are expected to recover. Officials said the two cases are not related.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), infections in Southern California and other parts of the country typically occur over the mosquito season, starting in the summer and continuing through fall.
There are no vaccines or drugs to treat West Nile virus. Most people who are infected don’t feel any symptoms. One in five may develop a fever or other flu-like symptoms.
About 1 percent of those afflicted, the CDC says, could develop serious and fatal conditions such as meningitis or paralysis.
In Riverside County, there were 33 human cases reported during 2017. In 2016, there were 10 confirmed human West Nile Virus cases in the county and there has not been a death from the illness since 2015.
Neither Los Angeles nor Orange County have reported any cases this year.
However, last year, Los Angeles County documented 268 West Nile virus cases including 27 deaths, according to the Los Angeles County Public Health Department. Orange County’s Health Care Agency reported 39 infections, including four deaths in 2017.
Health officials said there are a number of steps the public can take to protect themselves against getting bitten and contracting the infection:
- Do not spend time outside when mosquitoes are most active, particularly at dawn and dusk.
- Wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing when outside.
- Use mosquito repellent that contains DEET.
- Make sure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens and repair or replace screens that have holes or tears.
- Do not allow any amount of standing water on your property, which could cause mosquitoes to breed.
Health officials say anyone who becomes ill after exposure to mosquitoes should contact his or her health care provider. Information: 951-358-5107 or visit www.rivcoeh.org/Programs/vector.