County uses precautions against West Nile virus

County uses precautions against West Nile virus
San Diego County is taking precautions against the West Nile virus after a Del Mar man was diagnosed with the disease in late August. Courtesy photo

REGION — San Diego County is taking precautions against the West Nile virus after a Del Mar man was diagnosed with the disease in late August.

The 73-year-old was diagnosed with the virus after checking into a hospital for symptoms of encephalitis, brain inflammation that rarely occurs after people are exposed to the virus.

Mosquitoes transmit the virus so the county’s Vector Control Program is taking steps to curtail the mosquito population.

Technicians target areas with standing water, like drainage ditches, unmaintained swimming pools and ponds, with larvicide and tiny mosquito eating fish.

The county also uses aerial drops to get to hard-to-reach areas, like the San Elijo and Buena Vista lagoons.

The next scheduled aerial drop is Sept. 23.

The larvicide does not harm people, pets, plants or wildlife.

Birds can get affected by West Nile virus and spread it to mosquitoes, which in-turn spread it to humans so county officials have asked people to report dead crows and jays at (858) 694-2888.

The virus is untreatable and 80 percent of those who have been exposed don’t show symptoms.

The other 20 percent suffer flu-like symptoms, including a fever, headache, body aches and fatigue.

One in 150 people with the virus have serious neurologic complications that can be life threatening.

People over the age of 50 years old and with weakened immune systems have an increased risk of complications.

The county has found more than double the amount of dead birds that tested positive for the virus compared to last year.

Thus far, 95 dead birds with the virus have been counted and 18 batches of mosquitoes tested positive. Last year, 41 dead birds and six mosquitoes batches tested positive.

According to public health officials, late summer is when the virus peaks.

“The late summer is when we expect West Nile virus to peak, and there were cases diagnosed through October last year, so people need to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease,” said County public health officer Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H.

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