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Public health officers warn of mosquito-spread diseases, investigating four cases

Public health officers warn of mosquito-spread diseases, investigating four cases

Health, California Department of Public Health warn of WNV and SLEV in the county

@TheSunGazette

VISALIA – While the typical 110 degree heat has seemed to stay at bay more days than not, the regular dangers of Central Valley summer are still upon us. And with four cases of suspected West Nile Virus (WNV) and the presence of St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV) in the area, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is asking people to be aware. 

Last week the Tulare County Public Health and CDPH said they are investigating three adults and one child for WNV infection in the county. They reminded that WNV is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes, and there is no vaccine or medication to treat the virus. Meanwhile Delta Vector Control has also confirmed that the St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV) has been detected in mosquitos in Tulare County.

Symptoms of WNV and SLEV are similar and the distinction for these four cases is not yet finalized. Most people infected have no symptoms; however, WNV and SLEV can affect the central nervous system and one in five people may develop a fever along with other symptoms.  According to the California Department of Public Health, levels of illness vary:

No symptoms: approximately 80 percent of individuals infected will show no symptoms at all.

Mild symptoms: fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.  Symptoms generally last for a few days in up to 20 percent of individuals.

Serious symptoms: high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.  In less than one percent of individuals symptoms may last several weeks, neurological effects may be permanent, and WNV or the SLEV infection can be fatal.

Tulare County Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Haught strongly encourages residents to use increased safeguards to protect from both WNV and SLEV:

  • Use an effective mosquito repellent such as DEET.
  • Dress in long sleeves and pants during dawn and dusk or in areas where mosquitoes are active.
  • Drain standing water that may produce mosquitoes.
  • Repair or replace door and window screens that have tears or holes.
  • Contact your mosquito abatement district if you see areas of standing water that may be a breeding area for mosquitoes.

Residents are asked to help track WNV by reporting all dead birds and squirrels. Call 1-877-968-2473 to report a dead bird or squirrel, or you can submit an online report to the California West Nile website at westnile.ca.gov. 

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