Kern County reports first 2020 West Nile Virus case

BY Colby McCoy

In an Oct. 6 news release, Kern County Public Health Services said it has received confirmation of a human case of West Nile Virus (WNV), the first reported case in the county for 2020.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that normally spreads during the summer and early fall months. While it is not fatal to most people, it can pose a serious risk in certain individuals, leading to death in the rarest of cases. Approximately 20% of infected persons will experience symptoms such as headaches, fevers, joint pain, body aches, nausea and possibly skin rashes.

Less than 1% of people experience severe symptoms in which the virus affects the brain and nervous system. These symptoms can include confusion, neck stiffness and high fever. The Department of Public Health Services urges individuals experiencing symptoms related to the virus, especially after being bitten by a mosquito, to contact a medical care professional for further information.

There are numerous ways to reduce instances of mosquito breeding sites, including removing stagnant water from flower pots, pet bowls and other areas where pools of water are common. Furthermore, it is recommended to clean water collection vessels regularly to remove mosquito eggs, and stock ponds with fish that consume the larvae of mosquitoes. If you find an area rife with a mosquito infestation, contact your local vector control agency.

To reduce the chances of being bitten by mosquitos, wear long-sleeve shirts and pants, apply mosquito repellant and avoid mosquito-infested areas at all times throughout the day. Keep mosquitoes out of your home— which is equally important— with adequate screen protectors free from holes.

By utilizing proper precautionary techniques, the chances of West Nile Virus being spread can be lessened, though not altogether eliminated.

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