RIVERSIDE – A 52-year-old Riverside-area resident was infected with West Nile virus — the first confirmed human case countywide this year, public health officials said today.
The man, whose name was not disclosed, was hospitalized for treatment of virus-related symptoms and is recovering at home, according to the county Department of Public Health.
”This first confirmed West Nile virus case reminds us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Dr. Cameron Kaiser, the county’s interim public health officer.
Thirty-four cases of human infection have been reported statewide in the last few months, according to the California Department of Public Health. Most of the cases have been concentrated in Northern California.
An 88-year-old Kern County woman died this month from complications connected to West Nile, health officials said. Hers is the only known fatality this year.
In Riverside County, 11 people were infected last year. None of them died. The last known West Nile-related fatality in the county occurred in 2008, according to health officials.
Mosquitoes typically become carriers of West Nile virus after feeding on an infected bird and can then spread the potentially lethal strain to animals and humans, according to health officials.
Symptoms may never materialize, but can include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, skin rashes and swollen lymph nodes. Fatal cases are rare.
Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans the months of May through October. To reduce exposure to West Nile virus during this period, residents were urged to take the following steps:
— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most active;
— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;
— use insect repellent;
— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out; and
— get rid of standing water, aside from pools properly treated with chemicals.
The California Department of Public Health asks anyone who finds a dead crow, raven, magpie or jaybird to call the West Nile hotline at (877) 968-2473.