Aedes aegypti mosquito, photo via CDC
Written by Ben Hensley
The Fresno County Department of Public Health (FCDPH) confirmed Friday the first positive case and death of the year from St. Louis encephalitis (SLE) in Fresno County.
The virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can produce inflammation of the brain.
SLE is contracted by humans from infected mosquitoes and originates from an avian illness, which is then spread after a mosquito bites an infected bird.
The virus has been found in California in the past, however, since the introduction of West Nile Virus to California in 2003, the SLE has been less commonly detected.
“This positive case and unfortunate death is a strong reminder that everyone should take preventative measures to protect themselves and their families from mosquito bites in order to prevent vector-borne diseases,” said Fresno County Interim Health Officer Dr. Rais Vohra in a news release Friday.
Symptoms of SLE appear abruptly and include fever, headache, dizziness, nausea and weakness. Symptoms tend to worsen over the period of up to a week.
Most patients recover with mild or no symptoms, however, some patients develop signs of central nervous system infections.
Symptoms of an advanced case of SLE include stiff neck, confusion, disorientation, dizziness, tremors and general unsteadiness.
Cases of SLE may also result in a coma.
Currently, there are no vaccines to prevent SLE.
The FCDPH recommends residents prevent the possibility of mosquitoes by limiting standing water sources — a common breeding ground for mosquitoes — and utilizing mosquito and insect repellent to prevent potential exposure.
Residents are also encouraged to report dead birds by visiting www.westnilevirus.ca.gov, or by calling 1-877-968-2473.