His illness is the first reported infection in Stanislaus County this year and the second confirmed case in California in 2011.
West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals — fewer than 1 percent — develop serious neurologic illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis. People age 50 and older have a higher chance of becoming ill and are more likely to develop serious symptoms. Recent data also indicates that those with diabetes or hypertension are at greatest risk of serious illness.
“It is important that county residents know what precautions to take to protect themselves against West Nile virus,” said Dr. John Walker, Stanislaus County’s public health officer.
People should take precautions by wearing long sleeves and long pants when outside and applying repellants containing about 25 percent to 35 percent of the chemical DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, according to county health officials. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
It’s also recommended to avoid being outside an hour after sunrise or an hour before sunset, when mosquitoes are most prevalent.
Repellent should be applied sparingly. People should spray it on their hands and then apply it to their faces.
Standing water in yards, including in flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls, may provide a place where mosquitoes can breed and should be cleared away. People who have ponds should use mosquito fish, available from the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District, or products to eliminate mosquito larvae, officials say. In addition, folks should make sure that their doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.
Residents can call the Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at 634-1234 to report a neglected swimming pool or ornamental pond or with questions or concerns. All horse owners are also urged to consult their veterinarians about proper and timely West Nile vaccinations.
People can report dead birds, which also can contract the disease, to the California Department of Health Services by logging on to westnile.ca.gov/cfm/deadbird.cfm or by calling toll-free at 877-WNV-BIRD.
For information: www.westnile.ca.gov or www.stanemergency.com.