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Stockton woman dies from West Nile virus

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Posted: Thursday, August 15, 2013 11:45 am

An 83-year-old Stockton woman has died from complications of the West Nile virus, according to San Joaquin County Public Health Services.

The woman’s death was the first in San Joaquin County since 2007, according to the county. And in 2005, Acampo resident James A. “Jim” Rodgers died from the virus at the age of 86.

“We want to remind the public that although the risk of death from West Nile virus is low, this unfortunate death reminds us that we must protect ourselves from mosquito bites to prevent West Nile virus infection,” county Health Officer Dr. Karen Furst said in a news release.

The virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, Furst said. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals — fewer than one percent of those infected — will develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, Furst said.

Individuals 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms. Studies also show that those people with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greater risk for serious illness.

The most effective ways for individuals to prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus are:

  • Applying insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions to keep mosquitoes from biting you. Apply repellents only to exposed skin and/or clothing. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  • Wearing repellent in the early morning and evening because mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus tend to bite at that time. Make sure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  • Wearing clothing such as long pants and long-sleeved shirts that reduce the risk of skin exposure to mosquito bites.
  • Eliminating all sources of standing water on your property, including buckets, old car tires and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquitofish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae. Neglected swimming pools are also prime habitat for mosquito development.

The San Joaquin County Mosquito & Vector Control District is available to help with neglected pools in the prevention of mosquito development. To request service, call 209-982-4675, 1-800-300-4675 or visit the district website.

California’s West Nile virus website includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state. Residents are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD or 209-968-2473.

For more information, visit San Joaquin County Public Health Services or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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