County Health Officer Offers West Nile Virus Tips

August 27, 2010

The Tulare County Department of Public Health is advising residents that even though we are soon heading into the month of September, marking the end of summer for many, it is still important to properly protect yourself from West Nile Virus as the current number of individuals who have contracted West Nile Virus in Tulare County stands at three.

“The risk of serious illness from contraction of West Nile Virus to humans is low,” said Dr. Karen Haught, Tulare County Public Health Officer.  “In fact, most individuals who are infected with WNV will not experience any illness, but it is very important that individuals take the proper health precautions and follow proper health tips.”

About 20 percent of individuals infected with West Nile Virus will have mild to moderate symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches, weakness and nausea. Less than one percent of individuals will develop serious neurological illness such as encephalitis and meningitis. The elderly and those with lowered immune systems are more susceptible to serious illness.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. While there is currently no vaccine or treatment for humans, Dr. Haught said individuals can reduce their risk of mosquito-borne diseases by taking these precautions:

• DEET - Apply inspect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR 3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children two months of age and older.

• DRESS - Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.

• DAWN AND DUSK - Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.

• DRAIN - Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you have a pond, use mosquito fish or commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.

Additional precautions can be taken to stop the spread of West Nile Virus, which include reporting “green” standing water, such as ponds, or neglected swimming pools. 

Residents are encouraged to report dead birds or squirrels that are thought to be possibly infected with West Nile Virus.  You can make a report of this, or locate the mosquito control agency in your area by visiting or by calling

1-877-WNV-BIRD (1-877-968-2473).  If there is not a local mosquito control agency in your area, contact your local city government.