MARTINEZ -- Contra Costa County public health officials on Friday confirmed the county's first human case of West Nile virus this year -- in a man in his 60s from central county.

The man was hospitalized and has since been released and is recovering, said Erika Jenssen, the Contra Costa Public Health Division's Communicable Disease Programs chief, in a news release.

The virus has already been identified in birds in Central and East Contra Costa County. It is typically spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

There have been no West Nile virus-related fatalities in Contra Costa since 2006. Typically, three to five human cases are reported in the county each year. There were five in 2013, and all of the people recovered, according to the news release.

West Nile virus is typically spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. (Vicki Thompson/SVCN)
West Nile virus is typically spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. (Vicki Thompson/SVCN)

"The risk of becoming ill from the bite of a mosquito infected with West Nile virus is low," Jensen said in the news release. "Most people who become infected will not develop symptoms and will not need to seek care.

"However, in some cases, it can be very serious. This is a reminder that summer is here and it's important to reduce the risk of West Nile virus by taking precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes."

West Nile virus symptoms are usually mild and can include fever, headache and body ache. People over 50 and those with diabetes or hypertension or both can be prone to more severe symptoms.

To avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and infected with West Nile, public health officials suggest the following measures:


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  • Avoid activity outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and dusk.

  • When outdoors, wear long pants, long-sleeve shirts and other protective clothing.

  • Apply insect repellent that contains DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 in accordance with label instructions.

  • Make sure that doors and windows have tightfitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.

  • Contact Contra Costa Mosquito and Vector Control if there is a significant mosquito problem where people live or work, including abandoned swimming pools.

  • Report dead birds by calling 1-877-WNV-BIRD (877-968-2473).

    For more information about the West Nile virus, visit http://cchealth.org/westnile/ or http://westnile.ca.gov.

    Contact Tom Lochner at 510-262-2760. Follow him at Twitter.com/tomlochner.