Solano County reports first case of potentially deadly virus

Posted Jul 5, 2014 by Nathan Salant
Health officials in the San Francisco Bay Area county of Solano confirmed last week that a resident had contracted West Nile virus.
CULPRIT: Close-up photograph of Culex mosquito  blamed for spreading the West Nile virus.
CULPRIT: Close-up photograph of Culex mosquito, blamed for spreading the West Nile virus.
Salvadorjo/Wikimedia Commons
The infection is the first human case of the mosquito-borne virus in Solano County this year, although cases have already appeared in Tulare and Contra Costa counties, state officials said.
“The person is a resident of Suisun City and is 40-50 years of age," said Bela Matyas, the director of solano's health and social services department.
"The person is now home after a short hospitalization for West Nile virus-associated meningitis,” Matyas said.
Symptoms of the virus in humans include headache, fatigue, fever, skin rash, swollen lymph glands and eye pain, although the most severe cases can affect central nervous system and cause meningitis and encephalitis.
Fortunately, most people who get infected by the virus experience no symptoms, officials said.
“Four out of five people who are infected with WNV will not develop any symptoms at all," said Michael Stacey, the county's chief medical officer.
Of the remaining 20 percent, most get West Nile fever with mild, flu-like symptoms, he said.
West Nile virus is particularly dangerous for people 50 and over, who are more likely to develop complications.
The latest data also indicates that people with diabetes and/or hypertension are at a higher risk of developing severe illness.
“The summer months are when we experience the highest West Nile Virus activity," Stacey said.
"Since it is now summer season, it is a good opportunity to remind residents to take a few minutes to follow some simple precautions to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites,” he said.
Those precautions include:
Limiting outdoor activites at dawn and dusk, and wearing long pants and insect repellant when outdoors;
Eliminating all standing water, where mosquitoes lay their eggs;
Contacting the Solano County Mosquito Abatement District at 707-437-1116 to get a free mosquito fish if there is an ornamental pond on your property
Using insecct repellents that contain DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535;
Ensuring that doors and windows are tightly fitted with screens to keep mosquitoes out.
Solano officials also said 11 dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in the cities of Dixon, Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo so far this summer.
Jon Blegen, manager of the county's mosquito abatement district, asled residents to alert officials to any unmaintained swimming pools by calling (707) 437-1116.