An 86-year-old man from central San Joaquin County has died from complications due to the West Nile virus, the first West Nile death in the county this year, San Joaquin County Health Care Services reported today.
Details about the victim were not released, but in a statement issued by Health Care Services, the county's Public Health Officer, Karen Furst, said: "With the recent increase in the mosquito population, West Nile virus is a concern in the county and around the state."
The county does not identify West Nile patients by name or age.
Sixty-nine groups of mosquitoes have tested positive for the virus, up from 51 groups on July 10, according to Aaron Devencenzi, spokesman for the San Joaquin Mosquito and Vector Control District.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites in which victims can develop flu-like symptoms. So far, two other people in Kern County have also died from the virus this year, according to state and county officials.
Earlier this year, a 79-year-old San Joaquin County man was reported ill from the virus.
Crews in early July sprayed areas from the air just outside Tracy, the Stockton sewer ponds and Rough and Ready Island.
The number of infected humans has nearly tripled since last year, when 16 cases and no deaths were reported at the end of July 2006. Through the end of July this year, 43 Californians have been stricken with the virus, including the three fatalities, according to the Mosquito and Vector Control Association of California.
The number of counties reporting West Nile virus has risen from 26 on July 10 to 38, the association said.
Furst said the risk of severe infection is highest among people older than 50 and those with other health problems affecting their immune systems. People with diabetes are also at risk.
The average age of people reported with the virus in the county is 42 years old, she said.
People are urged to use insect repellent containing DEET and avoid spending time outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. When outdoors, people should wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing. Standing water should be eliminated from properties.
People are urged to report all dead birds and tree squirrels by calling 877-968-2473, or by visiting http://www.westnile.ca.gov.