Yolo County health department reports first case of human West Nile Virus in 2020

Yolo County health officials announced Saturday that a resident of the county contracted West Nile virus last month, the first case of the virus in a human there reported this year.

In a news release, the county’s Health and Human Services Agency said that the person was infected last month and is recovering.

“Although this patient is now recovering, it is important to note that there is a risk of contracting West Nile virus in Yolo County this time of year,” Deputy Public Health Officer Dr. Mary Ann Limbos said in a prepared statement.

The virus is carried by mosquitoes, who transmit disease through their bites. Though the vast majority of people who are infected survive, there is a chance of developing more serious symptoms. According to the health department, 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile virus experience severe illness, which may come with fever, headache, stupor, tremors, weakness, vision loss, paralysis, or a coma. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and prevention, less than one percent of patients die.

Most people, however, don’t experience any symptoms at all. Only about 20% show signs of illness, which could include fever, aches, nausea, swollen lymph glands and a skin rash. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days or several weeks.

In the last month, health officials across the region warned residents in a uptick of the detection of mosquitoes, notably the aggressive day-biting Aedes aegypti variety. In addition to West Nile, mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus. The Sacramento-Yolo Mosquito & Vector Control District District Manager Gary Goodman said in August that 20 mosquito samples in Sacramento County tested last month positive for the illness.

In California this year, more than 55 people have been infected with West Nile virus, according to Yolo County officials, who suggest taking steps to avoid contact with mosquitoes as the best way to prevent infection.

“West Nile virus is spread to people from the bite of mosquitoes. By making regular checks of their yards and draining standing water, residents can help cut down on mosquito breeding areas,” Limbos said. “Precautions such as wearing protective clothing and using insect repellents that contain DEET will also reduce the risk of mosquito bites. Even though the summer season is coming to an end, our weather continues to support an environment for mosquitoes.”

The dangerous heat spell over California has made the Central Valley the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, Goodman said, allowing larvae to reach adulthood in as little as four to seven days. Female mosquitoes can lay up to 100 eggs every third night after mating only once, and before they die, they can produce three sets of eggs.

Sacramento-Yolo abatement officials are continuing to perform control measures to reduce mosquito populations and will continue to do so, Yolo County officials said on Saturday.

State tracking data show that human infection has occurred in Sacramento, Placer, El Dorado and Sutter Counties this year, each reporting one case. Since 2004, more than 300 people have died of West Nile in California.

West Nile virus can cause high fever, headaches and muscle weakness, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions and muscle weakness. It is rarely spread person to person.

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