A San Luis Obispo County resident has reportedly died from West Nile virus complications.
The San Luis Obispo County Public Health Department says the person is believed to have contracted West Nile while visiting an area in the state outside the county.
“We extend our sincere condolences to this patient’s family,” said County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein in a press release. “This loss is a tragic reminder that West Nile Virus is here in California and can cause very serious illness. Please, be sure to protect yourself from mosquito bites and drain any sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.”
This is the first case and death of the virus in California this year.
Health officials say West Nile is commonly transmitted by mosquitoes to both humans and animals and typically follows a seasonal pattern based on mosquito populations.
“While most people infected with West Nile do not experience any symptoms, about one in five experience flu-like symptoms and a small number of people (less than one percent) develop serious neurologic illness,” according to a press release, which states the risk increases for people over the age of 50 or those with certain medical conditions like diabetes and hypertension.
Health officials offer the following preventative tips:
- Apply a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
- Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
- Be alert at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus usually bite in the early morning and evening.
- Check and repair all screens, including screen doors, to keep mosquitoes out.
To eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home, people are encouraged to remove standing water from drains or containers, roof gutters, and things like bird baths, fountains and pet dishes.