Del Mar man diagnosed with West Nile virus

A 73-year-old Del Mar man was confirmed Aug. 24 as the year’s first human case of West Nile virus in the San Diego region.

The man was admitted to a hospital Aug. 2 with symptoms of encephalitis — an inflammation of the brain that can be caused by viral or bacterial infection — and remains hospitalized, according to the county Health and Human Services Agency. The agency said testing by a state lab confirmed late last week that he has WNV.

Last year, 11 local WNV cases were diagnosed, and two of the patients died.

Health officials said that around 80 percent of the people with WNV — which is spread by mosquitoes — don’t get symptoms, while the remainder will have headaches, fever, nausea, fatigue, a skin rash or swollen glands.

Around one in 150 cases are life-threatening, and the risk goes up for patients over age 50, according to the HHSA.

“The late summer is when we expect West Nile virus to peak, and there were cases diagnosed through October last year, so people need to protect themselves from this potentially deadly disease,” said Dr. Wilma Wooten, the county public health officer.

The best protection is to empty out areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed, staying indoors at dusk and dawn when the insects are most active, and wearing long sleeves and pants or use repellent when outdoors.

County officials also urged residents to contact their vector control program when they find dead birds or green swimming pools, by calling (858) 694-2888 or emailing

So far this year, the county has collected 95 dead birds and 18 batches of mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile virus. The totals for all of last year were 41 dead birds and six mosquito batches.