A 65-year-old woman is the fifth person to contract West Nile virus in San Diego County this year, health officials announced today.
The Chula Vista woman was hospitalized with meningitis after developing symptoms consistent with the mosquito-borne disease, according to the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency.
A 24-year-old San Diego man, 38-year-old Carlsbad woman and a 58-year- old Del Mar woman and a 52-year-old East County man were diagnosed with West Nile virus earlier this year.
Last year, 15 people in San Diego County contracted West Nile virus.
"West Nile virus can have lasting effects in some people, including paralysis and nerve damage,'' said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county Public Health Officer. "That's why we urge the public to take the appropriate precautions to protect against contracting WNV.''
To avoid getting the virus, people should use insect repellent when outdoors, especially at dawn and dusk; avoid sleeping outside unprotected; wear long sleeves and pants outdoors; and ensure screens on windows and doors are tightly secured.
Most people infected with West Nile virus do not develop symptoms or become seriously ill, according to the HHSA.
The one in five people who do get sick from West Nile virus may suffer from headache, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rash and swollen glands. The risk of complications increases in people over 50.
So far in the county this year, 262 dead birds have tested positive for WNV. Additionally, one horse has died of the disease and 10 WNV-positive mosquito pools have been discovered, according to the HHSA.