West Nile virus is spread to humans from the bite of infected mosquitoe.
Contra Costa health officials this week called on residents to remain vigilant in taking steps to protect themselves from West Nile virus following an announcement of the county’s first human case of 2012.
There were three confirmed human cases of the virus in the county last year.
A state laboratory in Richmond last week confirmed a Central County woman was infected with the virus. She had mild illness and is expected to make a full recovery.
There have been no fatalities related to West Nile virus in Contra Costa since 2006.
The virus is spread to humans from the bite of infected mosquitoes, according to Susan Farley, the Communicable Disease Controller with Contra Costa Health Services. “It is important to remember that West Nile virus is absolutely preventable,” she said.
“The best thing people can do is to wear insect repellant outdoors, avoid going outside around dawn and dusk, and dump and drain standing water where mosquitoes breed,” she said.
According to Farley, insect repellents with DEET are most effective, and people should also report neglected swimming pools, which often act as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
West Nile virus can cause fever, head and body aches, nausea and vomiting, swollen lymph nodes and skin rash. Farley said that although West Nile virus can be a severe disease, most people who become infected do not develop any of these symptoms.
Additional information about how to protect yourself and your home from West Nile virus is available at www.cchealth.org and 1-888-959-9911.