West Nile and Mosquitos

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West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus commonly found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and, since 1999, in North America. West Nile virus is usually transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito acquires the infection by feeding on a bird with virus in its blood.

People over 50 and those who are immunocompromised have a higher chance of getting sick when infected with WNV and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites. When outdoors, reduce your risk of mosquito bite by practicing the “Six D’s” of protection: 

    • DRAIN all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding. 
    • DAWN and DUSK: Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active. 
    • DRESS appropriately when outdoors. Wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts. 
    • DEET: Apply insect repellent; apply according to label instructions. 
    • DOOR and window screens: Repair and replace screens that have tears or holes.

Less than 1 percent of the people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. West Nile virus infection can be fatal.

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms usually last for just a few days. Approximately 80 percent of the people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms.

Call your doctor if you have questions.

For more information on West Nile Virus visit www.westnile.ca.gov. To report a dead bird or dead tree squirrel call 1-877-WNV-BIRD.