Two Riverside County residents are recovering after being sickened with West Nile virus, health officials said Thursday.
The 65-year-old Mecca woman and 71-year-old Coachella man represent the first two cases of the mosquito-borne virus confirmed in Riverside County this year, according to the county Department of Public Health.
Three other cases have already been reported in Los Angeles and Orange counties this West Nile virus season, which runs from June through early fall.
Last week, a 78-year-old Fresno man became the second person in the state to die from the disease this year.
Last year, there were 15 cases reported in Riverside County, and 33 the year before that. There has not been a West Nile virus death in the Riverside County since 2015.
The virus spreads through mosquitos infected by feeding on birds with the virus.
Only about one in five humans infected become ill, but the elderly and those with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness, according to health officials.
The disease’s symptoms are flu-like, including fever and head and body aches.
“While West Nile is rarely life-threatening, it can occasionally be serious,” Cameron Kaiser, Riverside County public health officer, said in a statement. “Unlike the common cold which is easily transmitted, the West Nile virus can only be spread by mosquito bites, and there are easy steps to take to reduce your risk of getting bitten.”
Officials offered some ways to protect yourself:
• Mosquitos are most active at dawn and dusk, so wear long sleeves and pants if you’re spending time outside during those hours
• Use EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET
• Ensure your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens, and repair those that aren’t
• Empty any standing water on your property and clean the container or area it was in
Click here for more information on mosquito abatement.