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San Joaquin County woman has West Nile virus

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Posted: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 12:00 am | Updated: 10:06 am, Tue Aug 10, 2010.

A 50-year old woman from the central area of San Joaquin County has tested positive for West Nile virus. She was identified when donating blood and reports no symptoms of West Nile infection, according to county Public Health Services.

The diagnosis marks the first human infection of the mosquito-borne disease in the county this year.

West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of a mosquito harboring the virus.

“It is very important that people take all precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Karen Furst, San Joaquin County’s health officer.

County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Furst said it is county policy to not reveal the community in which the woman lives.

The Lodi area had a fatal West Nile infection five years ago. James “Jim” Rodgers died on Aug. 10, 2005 from the virus. Rodgers, 86, lived for about 30 years at Arbor Mobile Home Park in Acampo.

Most individuals infected with West Nile virus will not experience any illness, according to county health officials. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. About one in five people infected with West Nile will develop a fever with symptoms of headache, fever and fatigue, officials say. However, some individuals — fewer than one percent — will develop serious neurologic 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 when infected with West Nile, according to the county health department. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

Best ways to prevent West Nile virus

  • Apply inspect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon, eucalyptus or IR 3535, according to label instructions. Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older. For more information, visit www.tinyurl.com/5frxjx.
  • Mosquitoes who carry West Nile tend to bite in the early morning and evening, so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  • Wear clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts that reduces the risk of skin exposure.
  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.

If you have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae. Neglected swimming pools are prime habitat for mosquito development.

The San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District is available to help with neglected pools in the prevention of mosquito development.

To request district service, call 982-4675 or 800-300-4675, or visit the district website at www.sjmosquito.org.

For more information about West Nile virus, visit San Joaquin County Public Health Services, www.sjcphs.org, or the California Department of Public Health, www.westnile.ca.gov. Dead birds can be reported on the state website or by calling toll-free 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473).

— Source: San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District.

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