Orange County Reports First Human West Nile Virus Case of the Year

West Nile Virus Warning Concept

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SANTA ANA (CNS) - Orange County Health Care Agency officials Monday reported the first human case of West Nile virus this year.

A woman in Orange tested positive for the virus, but was not experiencing symptoms, officials said.

Last year, the agency reported 11 human infections of the virus in Orange County, with two dying.

The virus is what experts call "endemic," meaning it is a seasonal virus that regularly comes around in the summer and is contained.

"The best way to avoid West Nile Virus infection is to take precautionary measures to avoid mosquito bites," said Dr. Matthew Zahn, the deputy county health officer.

Experts suggest the following:

-- empty standing water where mosquitoes can breed;

-- ensure that window and door screens are still effective;

-- use inspect repellent that includes DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or products that contain IR3535;

-- cut down on outdoor activity at dawn and dust when mosquitoes are most active; and

-- wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.

Most of the time infections do not lead to symptoms, but in 20% of cases, fever, headache, body aches, nausea, fatigue and skin rash can occur. The more serious symptoms include severe headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or paralysis.

People aged 50 or older face increased risk of complications from the virus.

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