Placer County confirms West Nile virus death, first since 2018
Published Oct. 30, 2023
Placer County public health officials confirmed the first West Nile virus death this season, a Lincoln man over age 65. This is the first West Nile virus-related death in the county since 2018.
There have been 286 confirmed human cases and 10 West Nile virus-related deaths reported in California this year. There are 6 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Placer County this season and record numbers of West Nile virus positive mosquitoes and dead bird samples.
“We’re saddened to learn of this individual’s passing, and extend our sympathies to their loved ones,” said Dr. Rob Oldham, director of Health and Human Services and interim health officer. “While we are late in mosquito season, it is a sobering reminder about the importance of taking precautions.”
The risk of serious illness to most people from West Nile virus is low. However, some individuals — less than 1% — can develop a serious neurological illness like encephalitis or meningitis. People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications.
West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito.
"This season, we saw record numbers of West Nile virus in our mosquito and dead bird population which increases the risk for West Nile virus transmission to humans," said Joel Buettner, general manager of the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District. “This tragic death reminds us that West Nile virus can be a potentially life-threatening disease and we need to take precautions to limit our exposure to mosquito bites."
West Nile virus risk in Placer County is currently low and Placer Mosquito has not detected West Nile virus in mosquito or dead bird samples for four weeks. For the most up to date information, visit https://placermosquito.org/west-nile-information/.
To prevent West Nile virus exposure, practice the “three Ds”:
1. DEET — apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
2. DAWN AND DUSK — Mosquitoes often bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
3. DUMP AND DRAIN — Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact the district at 916-380-5444.
For more information about West Nile virus, visit the state of California's website on West Nile.
For more information about the Placer Mosquito and Vector Control District, contact the District at (916) 380-5444 or placermosquito.org. Follow the District on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok: @placermosquito. For a list of EPA-registered repellents, please visit placermosquito.org/repellent or cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html.