VISALIA, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) — Tulare County health officials said Thursday that five human cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in the county.
Two of the cases are confirmed while three are probable, said Carrie Monteiro, county spokeswoman. Officials urged residents to take precautions against mosquito bites as the virus has been detected in multiple locations within Tulare County.
Samples also indicate that St. Louis Encephalitis Virus may also be present, posing a risk to the public.
West Nile and SLE virus are transmitted to humans when bitten by an infected mosquito.
“Due to this increased activity and these reported cases, we strongly encourage residents to use safeguards to reduce their risk of contracting both West Nile Virus and SLEV through mosquito bites,” stated Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught.
Most people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms; however, about 1 in 5 people will develop a fever with other symptoms from 2 to 14 days after being infected, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Severe cases of West Nile can affect the central nervous system, resulting in meningitis and/or encephalitis, and can result in death or long-term disability.
Most people infected with SLE virus also have no apparent illness, the CDC said. Initial symptoms of those who become ill include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness.
Severe neuroinvasive disease (often involving encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain) occurs more commonly in older adults. In rare cases, long-term disability or death can result.
The CDC said there are no vaccines to prevent nor medication to treat West Nile or SLE.
Residents are urged to be on the lookout for potential mosquito breeding grounds around their property, Monteiro said. Homes that are unoccupied or in foreclosure should be watched since many have swimming pools or backyard ponds that could be home to mosquitoes.
Residents can take the following steps to avoid mosquito bites, reducing their risk of exposure to both West Nile Virus and SLE.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent such as DEET. Always follow label instructions carefully.
- Dress in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
- Drain standing water that may produce mosquitoes.
- Repair or replace door and window screens that have tears or holes.
Contact your local mosquito abatement district if you see areas of standing water that may be a breeding area for mosquitoes.
- Delta Vector Control (Mosquito Abatement District) – Covering the northern portion of Tulare County. Contact the Visalia Office at (559) 732-8606.
- Tulare Mosquito Abatement District – Covering the western portion of Tulare County. Contact the Tulare Office at (559) 686-6628.
- Delano Mosquito Abatement District – Covering the southern portion of Tulare County. Contact the Delano Office at (661) 725-3114.