New West Nile virus case reported in Nevada County |

New West Nile virus case reported in Nevada County

Residents are urged to reduce the risk of infection by practicing the “Three D’s”:

1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.

2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times.

Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out.

Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.

3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls.

Residents are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the state website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473). For more information on WNV in California, including how to report and safely dispose of dead birds, visit the California Department of Public Health website at, or call 1-877-968-2473.

Nevada County has reported its second case of West Nile virus this year, a little more than a month since a Nevada City woman became the state’s first reported fatality from the virus.

On Monday, the Nevada County Public Health Department reported that a county resident — a healthy adult younger than 50 — was diagnosed with West Nile virus fever and is recovering.

In July, Gloria Amaral, a Nevada County philanthropist and volunteer leader, died of West Nile virus at the age of 79. Amaral’s husband, Lance Amaral, told The Union she died July 11 after spending 12 days in the intensive care unit.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through a mosquito bite; mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. In the past two weeks, dead birds have tested positive for West Nile virus in Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Penn Valley.

As of Aug. 12, the California Department of Public Health reported a total of 36 human cases in the state, similar to the number at this time last year. There were 18 new human cases reported in California last week, with Kern, Orange, San Bernardino, and Santa Clara counties reporting their first cases so far this year.

Prior to this year, Nevada County last reported a human illness due to West Nile virus in 2006, and only five total since 2003; the county had not had a reported fatality due to West Nile virus since data first began being collected in 2003.

Dr. Ken Cutler, the Nevada County Public Health Officer, said, “It is still very early in the season, and while most infections with West Nile virus have few or no symptoms, sometimes they can be severe and we want people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.”

The risk of serious illness to most people from West Nile virus is low, Cutler said, noting there were 31 fatalities and 801 symptomatic cases reported last year.

However, some individuals — fewer than 1 percent — develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications.

Those with diabetes, immune suppression, and/or high blood pressure are also at increased risk for complications.

The virus is transmitted by mosquito bites and most people who become infected actually have mild or no symptoms. Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms that can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back.

Symptoms generally last for just a few days, although even previously healthy people have been sick for several weeks.

Less than 1 percent of individuals infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email or call 530-477-4229.

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