OC Health Care Agency Reports First Human West Nile Virus Infection of 2020

A child under the age of 18 years was diagnosed last week with West Nile Virus (WNV) infection. The child was hospitalized and is recovering. This is the first human WNV infection identified in Orange County this season. As of Friday, August 7, the California Department of Public Health has reported 10 cases of human West Nile Virus infection statewide.

In 2019, there were 7 reported human infections of WNV and one WNV-related death reported in Orange County. Most people who become infected with WNV do not experience symptoms, but about 20% will develop fever and may have headache, body aches, nausea, tiredness and sometimes a skin rash. More serious symptoms, such as severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or paralysis, occur more rarely, but people who develop these symptoms should seek medical care immediately. People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions are at increased risk of serious complications from WNV infection.

“West Nile Virus is endemic in Orange County, recurring every year during the summer months and continuing into the fall,” Acting County Health Officer Dr. Clayton Chau said. “The best way to avoid West Nile Virus infection is to take precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites.”

Recommended WNV precautions include:

• Emptying all standing water on your property to reduce areas in which mosquitoes may breed, including flowerpots and pet bowls

• Making sure your window and door screens are in good condition.

• Using insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or products containing IR3535, always following label directions

• Limiting outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active

• Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors

West Nile Virus activity has already been identified in County mosquito populations this season. Information on mosquito control is available on the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District’s website at http://www.ocvector.org. Other websites with helpful information about WNV include:

• Centers for Disease Control and Prevention www.cdc.gov

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