‘So unexpected’: Madera County woman raises awareness after losing friend to West Nile

CBS47 News

FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KGPE) – If you haven’t noticed, we are still in mosquito season here in the Central Valley and it’s proving to be deadly.

Just this past weekend, a Madera County woman died from West Nile Virus, carried by a mosquito.

West Nile is not something most people think about every day, but it can be a serious disease.

Whenever there’s a case of it in Madera County, the Mosquito and Vector Control go out to that area to investigate and try to prevent more cases.

“It’s a deep loss, just so unexpected so suddenly,” said Dawnya Rambo.

Standing outside the Chowchilla Market where her friend of 35 years used to work, Rambo still can’t believe a mosquito bite lead to her friend’s death.

“She thought she had the flu or something, she had a bad fever and then ended up having a stroke,” Rambo explained.

Dawyna wants to keep her friend’s name private but says she was 62 years old, healthy, and didn’t know where or when she was bitten.

Shortly after testing positive for West Nile Virus, she passed away at the hospital.

According to the CDC, there’s no treatment for West Nile.

While 80% of people won’t have any symptoms, of those who develop severe illness, one in ten will die.

“Certainly with COVID and heading toward flu season, people with flu-like symptoms might have any number of viruses,” said Madera County Public Health Director Sara Bosse.

That’s why Bosse says it’s important to get tested if you are experiencing symptoms.

Since 2003, the state has reported more than 7,000 human cases of West Nile and more than 300 deaths.

So far this year, they’ve reported at least 35 human cases across 15 counties.

Mosquitos don’t need much water to breed, just enough to fill a bottle cap.

That’s why it’s important to drain any standing water and protect yourself from mosquitos, especially during dawn and dusk.

“You can do that by avoiding the outdoors during those times, wearing long sleeves, and of course using FDA approved mosquito repellant,” Bosse explained.

“I just don’t want another family to lose one so fast and for people to think this has gone away,” said Rambo.

The health department says whenever there is a case of West Nile, they also work with health providers to encourage them to test and educate their patients, and community.

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