California reports its first West Nile virus death of 2021 in San Luis Obispo County


(KTXL) — Public health officials reported Friday a San Luis Obispo County resident died from West Nile virus, the first such death this year in California.

The California Department of Public Health did not release the resident’s identity or age.

CDPH officials say the risk of becoming seriously ill from an infected mosquito is very low. Those who are 50 and older, as well as people with diabetes or hypertension, are more at risk of getting sick if they become infected.

In 2020, the CDPH reported 11 Californians died from West Nile virus.

“West Nile virus activity in the state is increasing, so I urge Californians to take every possible precaution to protect against mosquito bites,” said CDPH Director and State Public Health Officer Dr. Tomás J. Aragón.

As of Friday, the CDPH said the virus had been detected in 45 dead birds in six counties and 177 mosquito samples from 13 counties. So far this year, the virus has been reported locally in Butte, Placer, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Yolo counties.

“So far this season, activity is within expected levels,” the CDPH wrote in Friday’s release.

Mosquito activity is highest in the early morning and evening hours. People outside during those hours should wear insect repellant.

Mosquitoes also lay their eggs in standing water, so it’s best to empty outdoor containers and keep pools maintained.

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