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Inland Woman Is State's 1st Case of W. Nile This Year

June 09, 2004|Eric Malnic | Times Staff Writer

A 40-year-old San Bernardino County woman is the first person in California infected with the West Nile virus this year, state health officials said Tuesday.

The woman, who was not identified, has recovered fully, said Dr. Richard Joseph Jackson, chief public health officer of the California Department of Health Services.

Jackson said the infection was discovered last month when the woman sought treatment for fever, muscle aches, backaches and a diffuse rash.

He said most people who are infected do not become ill, and only about 15% develop the symptoms experienced by the woman. Less than 1% develop more serious illnesses, such as encephalitis or meningitis, which can be fatal, Jackson said.

No vaccine for the disease is available.

The virus is transmitted to humans and other animals through mosquito bites, Jackson said. He said mosquitoes become infected by feeding on infected birds. The infection is not passed directly from birds to people or from person to person.

The announcement of the woman's illness came as officials announced that for the second time this year, mosquitoes collected in Los Angeles County had tested positive for the virus. The infected insects found this week were collected in La Mirada, Pico Rivera, South Gate and Downey. Infected mosquitoes were found May 6 in Pico Rivera.

Since January, the virus has been detected in 290 birds in Southern California.

The Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District advised people to eliminate sources of stagnant water, where mosquitoes breed, and to stay indoors at dawn and sunset, when the insects tend to be most active.

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