County reports year’s first case of West Nile virus

SAN DIEGO — A Spring Valley woman became the first person in the San Diego region to test positive for West Nile virus this year, but it’s unclear whether she contracted the disease locally, county health officials reported Friday.

The 49-year-old woman became ill with a headache and rash on the fourth day of a trip outside the country. Because illness can occur between two and 14 days after being bitten by a mosquito, health officials don’t know where she was infected.

The county Health and Human Services Agency said she was not hospitalized and has fully recovered.

County officials took advantage of the situation to remind residents to take precautions against mosquito bites by dumping even small amounts of standing water, wearing long pants and sleeves while outdoors or using a repellent.

Last year, 22 San Diego County residents tested positive for West Nile virus and two died.

While most infected people won’t even notice it, about one-fifth of those who get sick will have mild symptoms like headaches, fever, nausea, fatigue, skin rashes or swollen glands. The disease can lead to serious illness or death in rare cases.

So far this year, county vector control personnel have recovered 32 dead birds that tested positive for the virus, as well as eight batches of mosquitoes. A horse in Escondido also tested positive.

More information about the disease is available online.