FAIRFIELD — Solano County’s first human victim of the West Nile virus this year was confirmed by county public health officials Wednesday morning.
“The person is a resident of Suisun City and is 40 to 50 years of age. The person is now home after a short hospitalization for West Nile virus-associated meningitis,” said Dr. Bela T. Matyas, Solano County health officer and health and social services deputy director, in a press release.
Solano County had one human case of West Nile virus in 2013 and one in 2012, according to Solano County Health and Social Services officials.
As of Friday, the California Department of Public Health reports that there had been two other human cases of West Nile virus – from Contra Costa and Tulare counties.
Symptoms of West Nile fever – which is one of the results of the virus – include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash on the trunk of the body, swollen lymph glands and eye pain. The most severe forms of infection affect the central nervous system causing meningitis and encephalitis.
Four out of five people who are infected will not develop any symptoms at all. The others will usually develop West Nile fever and notice mild, flu-like symptoms.
“Less than 1 percent of those infected will develop severe neurological disease, which is what happened to this WNV case,” said Michael Stacey, the Solano County chief medical officer and deputy health officer, in the release.
The virus is usually transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Anyone can be infected, but people 50 and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. There is also recent data that show that people with diabetes and/or hypertension have a higher risk of developing severe illness.
“The summer months are when we experience the highest West Nile Virus activity. Since it is now summer season, it is a good opportunity to remind residents to take a few minutes to follow some simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” Stacey said in the press release.
So far this season, 11 birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in Solano County. They were found in Dixon, Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo. The Solano County Mosquito Abatement District also confirmed that mosquito samples collected in Dixon and Vacaville tested positive for the virus this year.
“We work hard to control the mosquito populations throughout the county and use all the tools that we have. However, I would like to emphasize the availability of effective mosquito repellents and encourage residents to use them regularly,” said Jon Blegen, Solano County mosquito abatement district manager. “I also urge residents to ensure that they do not have any standing water on their property and to report any unmaintained swimming pools by calling us at 437-1116.”
To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes, county officials recommended:
Residents are asked to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels at www.westnile.ca.gov or by calling 877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473). More information about West Nile virus can be found at www.westnile.ca.gov or www.cdc.gov.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.