First St. Louis Encephalitis-associated death confirmed in Kern County

Posted at 4:10 PM, Nov 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-18 19:11:47-05

The first Kern County St. Louis Encephalitis-associated death this year has been confirmed by Kern County Public Health Services.

The resident had pre-existing health conditions.

St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Culex mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits West Nile virus. It is not transmitted person to person.

 “This is a tragic reminder that serious diseases can be transmitted by mosquitoes,” Director of Kern County Public Health Services Matt Constantine said in a press release. “We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes.”

 Most people bitten by an SLEV-infected mosquito will have few to no symptoms.

Public health services advises to take the following steps to decrease the risk of infection:

  • Do not allow water to collect and stagnate in old tires, flower pots, 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 at least weekly to remove any attached eggs.
  • Avoid mosquito-infested areas and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors, especially if you are older or have a weakened immune system.
  • Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens in good repair.