California Confirms West Nile Virus Deaths

There are many consumers who enjoy the outdoors this time of year, but do not think about the risks associated with mosquitoes. It seems uncommon for individuals to go outside wearing long sleeves shirts and pants, but two confirmed West Nile Virus deaths may change your mind.

California confirmed its West Nile Virus deaths today, one involving a 74-year-old Sacramento County resident and the other involving a Shasta County resident. The 74-year-old had a history of hospitalization and chronic disease.

The West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos become infected with West Nile Virus when they eat birds that are infected with the virus. While birds are known to be the primary host of the illness, West Nile Virus has also been discovered in alligators, crocodiles, reptiles, and other animals. The disease, although confirmed in California this week, is named after the West Nile region located near Eastern Uganda – where the first case of the virus was confirmed in 1937.

The incubation period for the West Nile Virus is from 2 to 15 days, and can involve fever, headache, paralysis or limb weakness, meningitis, encephalitis, and other health complications. Individuals affected by diabetes and high blood pressure (hypertension) are most at risk, but people over age 50 can experience some complications from the disease.

There is no cure for West Nile Virus, and the only ways to prevent the onset of West Nile is to 1) wear sunscreen when outdoors, 2) refrain from venturing outside when mosquitoes are most active during the early morning and at night, 3) replace cracked window screens and windows so as to ward off mosquitoes, and 4) wear long shirts and pants, if not jacket, when venturing outdoors.