The first mosquito sample testing positive for West Nile Virus this year was confirmed by the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District to be found in Garden Grove, the agency said in a news release Monday.
The sample was collected from mosquitoes found near Garden Grove Boulevard and Newhope Street on July 3, officials said. So far, however, no birds or humans in the county have been infected with the virus this year.
The virus is usually transmitted to humans and other animals through mosquitoes, who often contract the illness from birds that feed on them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since 2003, the virus has infected more than 6,500 people in California and killed 292, state health officials said.
And while most people will not experience any illness after getting infected, some develop serious flu-like symptoms that can turn fatal in even more rare instances.
About one in five infected people will develop a fever and symptoms such as body aches, headache, vomiting, joint pains, diarrhea, or rash. In those cases, a full recovery can be made but feelings of fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or even months, CDC officials say.
More serious cases — where patients experience coma, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, convulsions, numbness or paralysis, among other symptoms — develop in about one in 150 people who are infected, CDC officials say. This can include serious illnesses affecting the central nervous system such as encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain, or meningitis.
Children and older adults are thought by health officials to be most at risk.
To make people aware of the dangers, officials with the O.C. Mosquito and Vector Control District post flyers around the county as inspectors try to find mosquito breeding sources and fix infrastructure issues in order to lessen the risk of the insects getting infected.
The district has also released guidelines for avoiding the virus.
- Apply mosquito repellent before going outside and reapply as necessary. Repellent containing DEET®, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus is recommended.
- Wear lighter-colored clothing, or long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Close unscreened windows and doors and repair damaged screens.
- At home, dump and drain containers filled with water and clean bird baths and pet water bowls on a weekly basis. Also, dump water from potted plants.
O.C. residents looking to report an unusually high number of mosquitos or other related concerns can contact the O.C. Mosquito and Vector Control District at 714-971-2421 or 949-654-2421.