S. E. Williams
San Bernardino County health officials have confirmed at least eight cases of West Nile Virus so far this year, ahead of last year’s pace, with only eight reported cases for 2016. Sadly, late last week, the county confirmed its first West Nile virus-related death for 2017.
The victim was described by the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health as, “an elderly western San Bernardino County male resident with serious health problems who tested positive for the virus.”
When the death was announced, San Bernardino County Public Health Officer Dr. Maxwell Ohikhuare said, “The family has my sincerest condolences with the loss of their family member. ” He added, “West Nile Virus can cause a deadly infection in humans and I urge residents to take precautions and protect themselves against mosquito bites.”
Although West Nile Virus has become a common annual concern, it is important to remember the disease is transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Signs and symptoms of the virus can include fever, body aches, rash, nausea, vomiting and headache.
Most people infected have no symptoms. However, people aged 50 and older, and individuals with diabetes or hypertension, are at increased risk of sickness, and are more likely to develop complications. The most effective way to avoid infection is to prevent mosquito bites.
Ohikhuare shared the best away to protect against mosquito bites is to avoid spending time outside from dusk to dawn, when mosquitoes are most active. Wear shoes, socks, long pants and long-sleeved shirts that are loose fitting and light colored. Remove or drain standing water—such as birdbaths, ponds, tires, buckets, and gutters— around your property to prevent mosquitoes from laying eggs. Apply insect repellent containing DEET. Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, to prevent mosquitos from entering your home.
Please report green or neglected pools by calling the Department of Public Health’s Division of Environmental Health Services at 1-800-442-2283. Press 3 when prompted. Please also encouraged to help keep communities safe by participating in the West Nile Virus surveillance program, by reporting dead birds to the state’s toll-free hotline at 877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473) or at www.westnile.ca.gov.