San Diego woman dies of West Nile virus

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west nile virus

SAN DIEGO — West Nile virus was confirmed as the cause of death three weeks ago of a 79-year-old San Diego woman, and two other people have since picked up the mosquito-borne disease, county health officials reported Wednesday.

The woman, whose name was withheld, got sick in August and died Sept. 8. Testing by a state laboratory confirmed that she was the first in the San Diego region to die of West Nile virus this year, county health officials said.

Her death was initially reported Sept. 11 and listed as a suspected WNV case. Two area residents died from WNV last year.

County health officials said two other cases of people being sickened by the illness were also confirmed by state testing, bringing the total number of confirmed WNV cases in San Diego County to five so far this year.

Environmental health workers have found 227 dead birds and 31 batches of mosquitoes this year that tested positive for the virus. Last year, a total of 41 dead birds and six mosquito batches tested positive for the virus.

Health officials said around 80 percent of people with WNV don’t get symptoms, while the remainder will have headaches, fever, nausea, fatigue, a skin rash or swollen glands.

Around one in 150 cases are life-threatening, and the risk goes up for patients over age 50, according to the HHSA.

The best protection is to empty out areas of standing water where mosquitoes breed, stay indoors at dusk and dawn when the insects are most active, and wear long sleeves and pants or use repellent when outdoors.

County officials also urged residents to contact their vector control program when they find dead birds or green swimming pools, by calling 858-694-2888 or emailing


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