KERN COUNTY, Calif. (KERO) — Kern Public Health has confirmed the first West Nile infection of the year. West Nile Virus is a disease primarily spread by mosquitoes during the summer there have been 400 local cases since it first arrived in Kern in 2004.
What is the West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness transmitted by mosquitoes to people. The virus survives in nature in birds and is passed when a mosquito feeds on an infected bird. The infected mosquito can then pass the virus when it bites humans and other mammals, such as horses. Most persons (80%) who become infected with the virus will not become ill. However, for the small proportion who do become sick (20%), symptoms can include fever, headache, rash, muscle weakness, nausea, and vomiting. A very small proportion (1%) may develop neurological symptoms such as limb paralysis, tremors, and altered mental status. In rare cases, WNV can be fatal.
Local health officials releasing a reminder for the community to avoid mosquitoes and any areas where there is a mosquito infestation.
Officials also recommend wearing insect repellent, long-sleeved shirts, and long pants and making sure your doors and windows close tightly. To decrease your risk of mosquito-transmitted infections Kern Public Health also recommends:
- Avoid mosquitoes at all times of the day.
- Avoid mosquito-infested areas and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
- Do not allow water to collect and stagnate in old tires, flowerpots, fountains, birdbaths, pet bowls, or other containers. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
- Keep swimming pools operating properly; drain water from pool covers.
- Stock garden ponds with fish that eats mosquito larvae such as gambusia, goldfish, and others.
- Empty and scrub the walls of birdbaths and wading pools weekly to remove any attached mosquito eggs.
- Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens in good repair to keep mosquitoes out of your home.