The girl began showing symptoms July 6, when she felt weakness in her right arm, had difficulty speaking and became unable to walk, according to Stanislaus County Health Services Agency officials. She was taken to a pediatric specialty hospital. Her symptoms are improving, officials said.
County officials did not reveal the girl’s city of residence, in keeping with their usual policy.
As of Tuesday, July 17, five human cases had been confirmed statewide in 2012, including one in Merced County, one in Fresno County and two in Kern County.
West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans and animals through mosquito bites. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals — less than 1 percent — will develop serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis.
People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms.
In 2009, a 7-year-old girl in Stanislaus County was infected with the neuroinvasive form of West Nile virus. She has been recovering since then, but she still needs substantial rehabilitation , according to county public health officials.
The virus has been found in both mosquito pools and dead birds this year in Stanislaus County, according to Dr. John Walker, county public health officer.
“From our surveillance, it appears that WNV is very active in the county this year,” Walker said. “It is vital that the public know how to protect themselves and their loved ones.”
People can take the following steps to protect themselves and others from mosquito bites and West Nile virus:
• Apply insect repellent containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picaridin when outdoors, according to label instructions.
• Dump or drain sources of standing water. During warm weather, mosquitoes can breed within four days.
• Change the water in pet dishes often and regularly replace water in birdbaths. Drill holes in tire swings so water can drain.
• Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, at dawn and dusk, and especially during the first two hours after sunset.
• When outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing when possible.
• Keep mosquitoes out of homes with tight-fitting screens on doors and windows.
Residents can call their local mosquito abatement districts to report a neglected swimming pools or ornamental ponds or to discuss questions or concerns. Stanislaus County residents north of the Tuolumne River should call East Side Mosquito Abatement District, 522-4098. All other residents, including most West Siders, should call Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at 634-1234.
Horse owners are urged to consult their veterinarians about proper and timely WNV vaccinations.
Individuals can report dead birds to the California Department of Health Services online at http://www.westnile.ca.gov/report_wnv.php or by calling 877-968-2473.
Recorded information in English and Spanish is available from the West Nile virus hotline at 558-8425. More information is online at www.www.westnile.ca.gov and www.stanemergency.com.