West Nile Virus :: Age not a factor in avoiding west nile virus infection, Kern County Health Dept.

The Kern County Department of Public Health is concerned that residents are not taking necessary precautions to prevent West Nile virus infection. To highlight the personal impact West Nile virus has had on infected individuals and their survival, a video presentation of California survivors was shared with the news media about their personal stories to recover from the disease.

With Kern County leading the nation in West Nile virus human infection cases in a single county, Dr. Boyce Dulan, Deputy Health Officer and Director of Disease Control, wants to raise the public?s awareness to the distribution of cases across all age groups and how they have been affected by West Nile virus.

As of August 21, Kern County has recorded 78 human cases and 3 deaths from West Nile virus infection. Although the three deaths were of individuals over the age of 60, more than 50 percent of the human cases are between the ages of 30 and 60.

?People of all ages need to beware of the risks,? says Dr. Dulan. ?It is not just your child?s or great grandparents? disease, West Nile virus is affecting all ages across the board. If you can be bitten by a mosquito, you?re at risk.?

An effort is underway by the Kern County Department of Public Health to demonstrate and provide mosquito repellent wipes to the public at open air events over the next few months. A large supply of Cutter mosquito repellent wipes has been donated by Spectrum Brands to the Kern Mosquito and Vector Control District for distribution in Kern County.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans, birds, and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. It is important to note that approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms. Of the people who do develop illness, they usually begin experiencing symptoms from 3 to 15 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito.

The number of individuals who become mildly ill with West Nile fever may be significantly underreported, since most can recover within a few days to several weeks without contacting a healthcare provider. However, less than 1 percent of infected individuals progress to the more serious form of West Nile neuroinvasive disease such as encephalitis or meningitis, which requires immediate medical attention. The elderly and those with lowered immune systems are more susceptible to serious illness. While there is a risk of death, it is very low.

The Department of Public Health recommends the following simple ?3 D?s? to reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes and contracting mosquito-borne diseases:

? DAWN/DUSK: Avoid being outdoors at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active
? DRAIN: Eliminate all sources of stagnant or standing water where mosquitoes can breed
? DEET: Use insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus according to label instructions

Other helpful steps to reduce the risk for mosquito-borne diseases in your neighborhood:

? When outdoors, wear loose-fitting long sleeves and long pants whenever possible
? Make sure the doors and windows in your home have tight fitting screens with no holes or tears
? Report any ill or dead birds or tree squirrels to the state hotline
? Consult veterinarians to properly vaccinate horses

To receive a free brochure with information on West Nile virus, in English and Spanish, call the Kern County Department of Public Health at 661-868-0327.

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