Glenn County reports West Nile virus death
Glenn County has reported it first death from West Nile virus this season — a reminder the very real danger of this mosquito-transmitted illness.
Glenn County Public Health Director Scott Gruendl said the deceased was an 87-year-old man from the Orland area.
"West Nile can affect young children, but it most often affects older adults," Gruendl said.
This is the fifth human case of West Nile fever reported in Glenn County this season, although a sixth asymptomatic case was discovered through a blood donation, Gruendl said.
It is the seventh death reported in the state this year.
"I did not expect it to be this bad," Gruendl said.
The mild winter and a hot, dry summer are part of the reason for West Nile to spike this year, making conditions ripe for mosquitoes that spread the virus.
Glenn County is the farthest north that a West Nile virus death has occurred, Gruendl said.
People age 50 or older have a higher chance of becoming sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms, and people with diabetes or other chronic illnesses such as AIDS are at greater risk for serious illness, he said.
"The majority of people with the virus will probably not know they have it," Gruendl said.
Some individuals, however, less than 1 percent of those infected, will develop serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, which is inflammation of the brain and surrounding tissue, he said.
Reports of infection with West Nile virus is on the rise this year throughout Northern California and the US.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2,636 human cases of West Nile virus disease have occurred, including 118 deaths as of Sept. 11.
Glenn County Mosquito and Vector Control District officials are fogging for mosquitoes throughout the county, Gruendl said.
People are urged to protect themselves while outdoors by using repellent that contains DEET, and avoid being outdoors during dawn and dusk when the mosquitoes are most active.
It is also important to drain all standing water around the home, especially gutters, tires and flower pot trays where water tends to collect, Gruendl said.
Since the presence of West Nile virus in the region has been determined, the county is no longer testing dead birds for the virus.