Individuals are encouraged to use personal protection and get rid of mosquito breeding sources.
IMPERIAL COUNTY — The Imperial County Public Health Department received confirmation this week of an Imperial County resident that passed away due to complications with West Nile virus (WNV). The individual was an elderly male that had a history of health problems. The onset of the illness began in June, while the exposure may have been late May through June of this year. The individual spent some time in a local hospital before being transferred out of the county to another facility. It is unknown where the individual was infected due to recent travel in different areas in southern California. Family members reported that the individual did not use insect repellent when spending time outdoors and had reported mosquito bites.
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the resident that passed away as result of complications with WNV. This local death serves as a reminder to our community of the importance of taking precautions against mosquito bites,” said Stephen Munday, M.D., Health Officer for Imperial County. “Mosquitoes are typically active in Imperial County this time of year. We urge everyone to take simple steps to eliminate mosquito breeding sources around their homes to protect themselves, their loved ones, and communities.”
The Public Health Department’s Vector Control Program has conducted mosquito trappings in the area where the individual resided. Despite trapping efforts, mosquito pools that can be tested have not been detected. For that reason, officials are not able to confirm where the resident was infected. Trapping efforts will continue in the area. “It is important for all residents to know that they need to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites no matter where they reside in Imperial County,” stated Jeff Lamoure, deputy director of Environmental Health. Individuals can view the latest information on WNV activity by visiting the state’s WNV activity webpage at http://www.westnile.ca.gov/.
Severe symptoms of WNV include fever, nausea, vomiting and seizures. Most individuals who are infected with WNV will not experience any illness. Others will have only mild symptoms, such as fever, headache and body aches. However, WNV can be severe in the elderly and individuals with lowered compromised immune systems.
WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Human-to-human transmission of WNV generally does not occur absent a blood transfusion or tissue donation from an infectious donor.
Individuals can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by taking the following precautions:
• Limit time outdoors during dawn and early evening.
• When outdoors, wear loose fitting, light colored, long-sleeve shirts and pants when mosquitoes are most active (during dusk and dawn).
• Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions to prevent mosquito bites.
• Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
• Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property that can support mosquito breeding by:
- Draining or eliminating old tires, buckets, plastic covers, toys, or any other container where mosquitoes can breed.
- Emptying and changing the water in bird baths, fountains, wading pools, rain barrels, and potted plant trays at least once a week to destroy potential mosquito habitats.
- Draining or filling temporary pools of water with dirt.
- Keeping swimming pool water treated and circulating.
• Contact Vector Control if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a useful search tool the public can use to find the repellent products most appropriate for them and their families. The tool is available at https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/find-repellent-right-you
For general information about WNV or to report a problem with mosquitoes in Imperial County, please contact Environmental Health at (442) 265-1888. For information about WNV, visit the Web site: http://www.westnile.ca.gov/ or http://www.icphd.org/environmental-health/bee---mosquitoes/west-nile-virus/