How to avoid West Nile Virus. First 2023 case reported in Shasta County
A Redding resident was recently hospitalized with the first case of West Nile Virus reported in Shasta County in 2023.
The unnamed adult was hospitalized with the disease on Aug. 17 and their test results were reported to public health officials on Wednesday, Aug. 23, according to a report issued by the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency.
West Nile Virus can be found in all parts of Shasta County, the agency said, and is "almost always transmitted to people from the bite of an infected mosquito,” not through human or other animal contact.
The mosquito-borne virus ― which causes disease in humans, birds and horses ― can make people very sick, sometimes killing those infected, according to the state’s West Nile tracking website.
Symptoms include any combination of high fevers, severe headaches, confusion and stiff neck. People developing these symptoms should seek medical help immediately and “tell your doctor if you’ve had recent mosquito bites,” the county said.
As of Friday, state health officials reported 55 West Nile Virus cases in humans in 18 California counties in 2023, not including Shasta County’s case. Five were fatal. Many of those cases were reported in the Sacramento Valley, according to state data.
So far this year, statewide the West Nile Virus was also found in 15 horses, 102 chickens and another 287 dead birds, according the state. The virus is especially deadly to horses, according to the county.
Since 2003, more than 7,500 cases were reported in people across California. Of those stricken, 300 died from it, the state reported. West Nile Virus is “common in the United States, especially in California, and is a problem that is here to stay,” the state said.
The virus is especially prevalent in the North State this year, according to the county.
Wet winter and spring storms filled lakes, ponds and the tiny places where mosquitoes breed with water, giving the insects more breeding grounds and a longer season than in recent years. Shasta County Mosquito and Vector Control District officials reported they trapped 67 mosquitoes carrying the West Nile in 2023, shattering the previous record of 48, set in 2015.
More:Record number of disease-carrying mosquitoes reported in Shasta County
It remains to be seen if cases outnumber those reported during recent drought years. In Shasta County, health officials reported three cases of West Nile in 2021 and one in 2022, according to Community Education Specialist Kimberly Ross at the Shasta County Health and Human Services Agency.
Shasta County and state public health branches issued recommendations to help people avoid mosquitoes and the diseases they spread.
“The best way to avoid the virus is to prevent mosquito bites using the four Ds,” according to the county:
You can help by reporting significant mosquito problems to vector control, according to public health officials.
Find a reporting agency in any California county at https://westnile.ca.gov/website/ziplocator/Zip_Code_Locator.PDF
People can also help by reporting dead birds to the state hotline at 877-968-2473 or go to westnile.ca.gov/report. Never directly touch a dead bird. Pick it up using disposable gloves or with a plastic bag, public health branches cautioned.
Record Searchlight reporter Damon Arthur contributed to this story.
Jessica Skropanic is a features reporter for the Record Searchlight/USA Today Network. She covers science, arts, social issues and news stories. Follow her on Twitter@RS_JSkropanic and onFacebook. Join Jessica in the Get Out! Nor Cal recreation Facebook group. To support and sustain this work,please subscribe today. Thank you.More:DrainDuskdawnDressDefend