The Kern County Public Health Services Department has received confirmation of the first reported human cases of West Nile virus in Kern County this year. Two residents have been diagnosed with West Nile virus infections and live in the 93304 and 93311 zip codes.
West Nile virus is spread to people primarily through bites from infected Culex species mosquitoes, and is not contagious from person to person. While the Culex species are known to transmit West Nile virus; they are not known to transmit Zika virus. “Peak season for West Nile virus has begun, and we strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes” says Matt Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services.
The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than one percent – can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that people with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness according to California Department of Public Health.
Decrease Your Risk of Mosquito Transmitted Infection:
- Avoid mosquitoes at all times of the day, rather than only “dusk and dawn”.
- Avoid mosquito-infested areas and use mosquito repellant 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, swimming pools, 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 eat mosquito larvae such as gambusia, goldfish or others.
- Empty and scrub the walls of birdbaths and wading pools weekly to remove any attached eggs.
- Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens in good repair to keep out mosquitoes.