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A child in Orange County has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, becoming the county’s first confirmed human case of the mosquito-borne infection this year, health officials announced Monday.

Authorities have not disclosed any other information about the patient, who is recovering after being hospitalized with the virus, according to the Orange County Health Care Agency. The diagnosis was confirmed last week.

As of Friday, California had 10 reported human cases of West Nile virus this year, according to the state’s Department of Public Health.

Last year, Orange County had seven confirmed human infections, one resulting in death, the health care agency said.

Back in June, the Orange County Mosquito and Vector Control District noted that some areas of the region had been experiencing an increase in mosquito activity for six consecutive weeks. At the time, this year’s mosquito count was already nearly five times higher than the previous year’s and double the county’s five-year average.

“High mosquito abundance is one factor that increases the risk for West Nile virus (WNV) transmission when virus activity is present,” Robert Cummings, the district’s director of Scientific Services, explained at the time.

The following month, Orange County confirmed its first West Nile virus infections of the year in mosquitoes found in three cities.

The bloodthirsty insects can transmit the virus to humans via a bite. While most people infected won’t experience any symptoms about 20% will develop a fever and other side effects, including
headache, body aches, nausea, tiredness and, occasionally, a skin rash.

But in rare cases, the disease can lead to more serious symptoms, such neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or even paralysis. The disease can be lethal for some.

Increased risk of serious complications from the virus is generally associated with certain medical conditions and in those over the age of 50, according to officials.
“West Nile Virus is endemic in Orange County, recurring every year during the summer months and continuing into the fall,” said Dr. Clayton Chau, the county’s acting health officer, said in the release. “The best way to avoid West Nile Virus infection is to take precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites.”

Those measures include emptying all water-filled containers, including pet water bowls and bird baths, on a weekly basis to reduce potential breeding spaces for mosquitos. It’s also important to make sure that windows and door screens are in good condition, preventing the pesky insects from coming indoors.

It’s also recommended that people apply mosquito repellant to exposed skin before going outside, and wearing a repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or lemon eucalyptus oil, officials said. Wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants while outside can also help prevent bug bites.

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