Two people from Tulare County have confirmed cases of West Nile virus and three other county residents are suspected of contracting the mosquito-borne disease, the Tulare County Health and Human Services Agency reported Thursday.
Dr Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer, is urging residents to take precautions against mosquito bites, as West Nile virus-positive mosquito samples have been found in multiple locations in Tulare County.
Additionally, the samples indicate that St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) may also be present, which poses a risk to the public, Dr. Haught said.
West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, and there are no vaccines or drugs to treat the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Most people infected with West Nile will have no symptoms; however, about 1 in 5 people will develop a fever with other symptoms two to 14 days after being infected, the CDC reports.
Severe cases of West Nile virus can affect the central nervous system, resulting in meningitis and / or encephalitis, and can result in long-term death or disability, the CDC reports.
St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) belongs to the same virus family as West Nile virus. Both viruses are transmitted to humans when bitten by an infected mosquito, the CDC reports.
Most people infected with SLEV will have few or no symptoms. The most common symptoms are mild, flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache, five to 15 days after infection, the CDC reports.
Severe cases of SLEV can also affect the central nervous system, resulting in meningitis and / or encephalitis, and can result in long-term death or disability, the CDC reports.
Beware of homes that are unoccupied or in foreclosure, since many have backyard pools or ponds that are breeding grounds for mosquitoes, Tulare County health officials advise.
Contact your local mosquito culling district if you see areas of standing water that could be a breeding area for mosquitoes. Tulare County has three mosquito killing districts that provide killing services to residents:
- Delta Vector Control (Mosquito Abatement District) – It covers the northern part of Tulare County. Contact the Visalia office at (559) 732-8606 or visit online at http://www.deltavcd.com/.
- Tulare Mosquito Killing District – Covering the western part of Tulare County. Contact the Tulare office at (559) 686-6628 or visit online at https://www.tularemosquito.com/.
- Delano Mosquito Abatement District – It covers the southern part of Tulare County. Contact the Delano office at (661) 725-3114 or visit online at https://delanomosquito.com/.
Animals and West Nile
Horses are also particularly susceptible to West Nile virus infection, but there is a vaccine for horses to prevent these diseases and horse owners should vaccinate their horses annually and keep vaccinations up to date as a preventative measure.
Protection against mosquito bites
To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus and SLEV, Tulare County health officials recommend:
- Use an EPA registered insect repellent such as DEET. Always follow the instructions on the label carefully.
- Wear long sleeves and pants during sunrise and sunset or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
- Drain the standing water that can produce mosquitoes.
- Repair or replace mosquito nets on doors and windows that show tears or holes.
James Ward covers fun, news, sports and lifestyles for the Visalia Times-Delta / Tulare Advance-Register. Follow him Twitter. Receive alerts and keep up to date on everything related to Tulare County starting at $ 1 per month. Sign up today.