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California’s First Human Case of West Nile Virus Reported in Santa Barbara County

So far this year the county has had no reported cases of West Nile in animals

Santa Barbara County has reported the first human case testing positive for West Nile virus in California this year.

Santa Barbara County so far has not had a case of West Nile virus in animals reported this year.

West Nile is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Human-to-human transmission of the West Nile virus does not occur.

“Summer is the time when mosquito activity increases,” said Dr. Peter Hasler, medical director of the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department. It’s a good reminder for us all to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.”

People can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

» Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and dusk.

» When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.

» Apply insect repellent according to label instructions.

» Make sure that doors and windows have tight fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

» Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property that can support mosquito breeding.

The West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999 and is now well established in most states. In 2011, West Nile activity has been detected in animals in 14 of 58 California counties.

Most individuals who are infected with West Nile will not experience any illness. Others will have only mild symptoms, such as fever, headache and body aches. However, West Nile can be severe in the elderly and individuals with lowered immune systems.

— Susan Klein-Rothschild is a public information officer for the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department.


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