STOCKTON — San Joaquin County Public Health Services on Wednesday announced that it has confirmed the first case of West Nile virus in the county this year.
The agency said a 74-year-old Stockton woman was hospitalized with the virus last month. She passed away sometime afterward, but the agency said the cause of death was unconfirmed.
As of Oct. 12, there have been 70 confirmed cases of the virus in California, according to westnile.ca.gov.
In San Joaquin County, 17 dead birds, 388 mosquito samples and three dead horses have all been confirmed to have had the virus.
The county’s 388 mosquito samples and three dead horses with West Nile are the highest number of each in the state. Tulare County has reported 373 mosquito samples with the virus, while two dead horses have been reported in both Fresno and Sacramento counties.
The 17 dead birds reported in the county are the third highest in the state, behind 42 found in Los Angeles County and 100 found in Sacramento County.
There have been 13 human cases in Butte County and 11 in Los Angeles County, westnile.ca.gov reported.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through mosquito bites. While most people who become infected do not get sick, about 1% of individuals can develop serious neurologic illnesses such as encephalitis or meningitis.
Residents most at risk for infections and complications from the virus include those 50 and older, as well as people with diabetes, hypertension, or other underlying health conditions, county Public Health said.
Symptoms of serious infections include severe headaches, stiff neck, and disorientation or confusion. Those who have any of these symptoms should seek medical attention immediately, as a serious infection typically requires hospitalization to provide intravenous fluids, respiratory support and prevention of secondary infections, county Public Health said.
There is currently no cure for West Nile virus.
Last year, there were 263 human cases of West Nile and 11 deaths in California. Of those, four cases were in San Joaquin County.
Over the past decade, the number of human cases in San Joaquin County was the highest in 2018 and 2012, when there were 15 in both years. There were 14 cases in both 2017 and 2016, and 10 cases in 2014 and 2013, according to westnile.ca.gov.
County Public Health and the San Joaquin County Mosquito and Vector Control District remind resident to drain and eliminate or treat all sources of standing water on their property, even small amounts, as that is where mosquitoes lay eggs.
Standing water can be found in flowerpots, old automobile tires, rain gutters and pet bowls, as well as swimming pools and spas. Pet bowls should be scrubbed and water changed at least weekly, and pools and spas should be treated for mosquitoes.
Both agencies recommend residents avoid outdoor activity in the early mornings and evenings, when mosquitoes are most active.
Those who must be outside at those times are advised to wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, and apply EPA-approved insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or Para-menthane-diol.
In addition, if you find a dead bird — especially a crow, jay, magpie, raven, sparrow or hawk — report it online at westnile.ca.gov/ report.php.
Report significant mosquito infestations and daytime biting mosquitoes to San Joaquin County Mosquito & Vector Control District at www.sjmosquito. org, or call 209-982-4675 or 800-300-4675.