By Jane McInnis
A San Joaquin woman died from West Nile Virus earlier this week, the county's public health services reported on Thursday.
An 83-year-old woman from Stockton died following "high virus activity" in surrounding counties.
The death comes two days after the first virus-related death of the year was reported in New Mexico, also involving an elderly person.
People over 50 are have a higher
risk of severe disease from the virus, such as encephalitis and meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The last death caused by West Nile Virus in San Joaquin County was in 2007, Carver Media reports.
The Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District announces that six more dead birds are positive for West Nile virus. Three of the birds are American crows, two are Western scrub jays, and one is a Swainson's hawk. Two birds were found in Brentwood and one each in Antioch, Bethel Island, Oakley and Martinez. Location details of the birds are listed on the District's website.
"The steady stream of dead birds positive for West Nile virus and the high virus activity surrounding Contra Costa County clearly illustrates that we all need to heed the mosquito and vector control districts' warnings and take the recommended precautions," said Steve Schutz, Ph.D, scientific program manager for the District. "Just today the San Joaquin County Public Health Services announced their first human fatality since 2007, the first since West Nile was originally found in that county."
Birds are the reservoir for West Nile virus. The two species of mosquitoes in Contra Costa County capable of transmitting the virus prefer to feed on birds; however, people can become infected when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then a person. West Nile virus symptoms of the mild form include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, and swollen lymph glands. While the illness can last only a few days, even healthy people have reported being sick for several weeks. West Nile virus of the severe form can be fatal.
Residents are urged to help reduce their risk of contracting mosquito-borne diseases by following these guidelines:
- Dump or drain standing water. Mosquitoes can't begin their life without water.
- Defend yourself against mosquitoes using repellents containing DEET, Picaridin, or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
- Avoid being outdoors when mosquitoes are present, typically dawn and dusk.
- Report neglected swimming pools by calling 925-771-6195 or visiting www.ContraCostaMosquito.com Anonymous calls accepted. Just one neglected pool can produce more than 1 million mosquitoes and affect people up to five miles away.
Since 2005, 42 people in Contra Costa County have been diagnosed with West Nile virus. In 2006, two people died from the disease. Recent studies have shown that the majority of cases are not diagnosed and grossly under reported. For 2013, a total of four groups of mosquitoes and 37 dead birds have tested positive for the virus.
Contra Costa Mosquito & Vector Control District, an independent special district and public health agency, is located at 155 Mason Circle in Concord. Call the District to report mosquito problems at (925) 771-6195 or visit their office between 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to get FREE mosquitofish for ornamental ponds, horse troughs or neglected swimming pools.