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First case of mosquito-borne illness reported in Stanislaus area. It can be serious

Modesto Bee - 7/13/2022

Jul. 13—Stanislaus County public health officials confirmed a case of St. Louis encephalitis Wednesday.

The viral disease spread by mosquitoes is less common than West Nile virus, an endemic illness that generates attention every year in the Central Valley.

According to a county news release, an adult male suffering from neurologic illness tested positive for the St. Louis encephalitis virus. It's the county's first case of the viral disease this year.

Officials did not know where the man contracted the illness. As of last week, neither the St. Louis or West Nile viruses had been detected in the environment in Stanislaus County by mosquito abatement districts. The related viruses haven't been found in mosquito samples or dead birds, and no infections in horses.

"We are not aware whether the individual traveled out of county or not," a county spokesperson said by email.

A county health official reminded the public to protect themselves against mosquito bites, which can spread the two viruses.

"During the warmer months when mosquito activity increases, and people spend more time outdoors, it is important to protect ourselves from mosquito bites to prevent mosquito-borne illnesses," Dr. Thea Papasozomenos, assistant public health officer, said in the news release.

The East Side and Turlock mosquito abatement districts encouraged residents to take precautions against mosquitoes, such as insect repellent or wearing long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors in the evening.

The mosquito abasement districts ask residents to report standing water where mosquitoes may breed. Also report dead birds. Mosquito bites transmit the St. Louis and West Nile viruses from infected birds to people.

According to a California Department of Public Health fact sheet, most people infected with St. Louis encephalitis virus have no symptoms. In rare cases, the virus may cause swelling or inflammation of the brain. The illness may be fatal or cause long-term disability.

The milder symptoms of St. Louis and West Nile infection may include fever, headache and fatigue.

The county news release said older adults with diabetes or weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to serious illness.

Stanislaus County residents north of the Tuolumne River may report mosquito problems to Eastside Mosquito Abatement District, at (209) 522-4098. Other residents may contact Turlock Mosquito Abatement District at (209) 634-1234.

This story was originally published July 13, 20224:16 PM.


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