Reports Of An Individual Contracting West Nile Virus In Barstow Are Incorrect

By Staff Reports

West Nile Virus is not present in the City.

(Barstow)– On Monday, September 19, 2011, the San Bernardino County

Department of Public Health reported that a 57 year old City of Barstow resident was

infected with West Nile Virus on or around August 29, 2011.   After learning of the

situation, the City began coordinating with the County to respond to the event.

However, after further research and review, it has been determined that the infectious

mosquito bite which transmitted the disease took place in the City of Fontana.  This

means that the mosquitoes which caused  the West Nile Virus  infection did not come

from the Barstow area.

As soon as information became available this week indicating that a potential human

transmission of West Nile Virus occurred in the Barstow area, the City coordinated with

San Bernardino County to proactively conduct surveillance and mosquito abatement

activities within City limits.  This week, mosquito trapping occurred in town and the

County Vector Control Agency  notified  the City  tonight that all tests  have come  back

negative for West Nile Virus.  It is  also important to note that San Bernardino County

Public Health  authorities  are of the opinion that the mosquitoes in Barstow are  not

transmitting the West Nile Virus.

Some frequently asked questions and corresponding answers regarding the West Nile

Virus include the following:

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that was originally found in Africa.

In 1999, it was detected in the eastern United States; since then the virus has spread

throughout the United States and is well established in most states, including California.

How do people get WNV?

 Infected Mosquitoes.  Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected

mosquito. Mosquitoes are WNV carriers (“vectors”) that become infected when

they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to

humans and other animals when they bite.

 Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child.  All donated blood is checked for

WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and

organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery

from having it. Transmission during pregnancy from mother to baby or

transmission to an infant via breastfeeding is extremely rare.

 Not through touching.   WNV is not spread through casual contact such as

touching or kissing a person with the virus, or by breathing in the virus.

How soon do infected people get sick?

People typically develop symptoms from 3 to14 days after they are bitten by an infected


What are the symptoms of WNV?

WNV affects the central nervous system. However, symptoms vary:

 No Symptoms in Most People.  Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out

of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms.

 Milder Symptoms in Some People.  Up to 20 percent (about 1 in 5) of the people

who become infected will display symptoms which can include fever, headache,

body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin

rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms generally last for just a few

days, although even previously healthy people have been sick for several weeks.

 Serious Symptoms in a Few People.   Less than one percent (about 1 in 150

people) of individuals infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe

symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor,

disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss,

numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and

neurological effects may be permanent. WN virus infection can be fatal.

Who is at greatest risk of getting severely ill from WNV?

People over the age of 50 have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to

develop serious symptoms when infected with West Nile virus.   Being outside,

especially at dawn or at dusk, increases your risk of being bitten by an infected

mosquito. Take precautions to avoid mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside,

either working or playing.  Risk of transmission through medical procedures is very low.

All donated blood is checked for West Nile Virus before being used. The risk of getting

WNV though blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not

prevent people who need surgery from having it.

How is WNV infection treated?

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people

experience fever and aches that pass on their own. In more severe cases, people may

need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive care including intravenous

fluids, help with breathing, and nursing care.

What should I do if I think I have WNV?

Milder WNV illness improves without treatment, and people do not necessarily need to

seek medical attention for this infection, though they may choose to do so. If you

develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or

confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Pregnant women and nursing mothers

are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.

If you have had WNV, are you immune to further infections?

It is thought that once a person has recovered from WNV, they are immune for life to

future infections with WNV. This immunity may decrease over time or with  health

conditions that compromise the immune system.

Can animals get sick from WNV?

An infected mosquito can bite any animal, but not all animals will become sick. The

disease most often affects birds but may occasionally cause disease in other animals.

Wild birds serve as the main source of virus for mosquitoes. Infection has been reported

in more than 225 bird species. Although many birds that are infected with WNV will not

appear ill, WNV infection can cause serious illness and death in some birds. The most

severe illnesses are seen among the corvid birds , which include crows, jays, ravens,

and magpies.

Outside of birds, do other animals get sick from WNV?

Tree squirrels with West Nile virus can develop neurological symptoms such as

uncoordinated movement, paralysis, shaking, or circling and may die.

Like people, most horses bitten by mosquitoes will not become sick with WNV.

However, of those that do, clinical signs may include stumbling, circling, hind leg

weakness, inability to stand, muscle tremors, and death. A vaccine to prevent West Nile

virus is available for horses and horse-owners should consult with a veterinarian about

WNV vaccine and other vaccines against mosquito-borne viruses, such as western

equine encephalitis. For more information on West Nile Virus and horses, please visit

the California Department of Food and Agriculture website at

Dogs and cats can be exposed to WNV in the same way as humans. However, these

animals are very resistant to WNV and rarely become ill. Concerned pet owners should

consult with a veterinarian.

How do I protect myself from exposure to mosquito bites / WNV?

WNV Campaign promotes the following are the most effective ways for individuals to

prevent exposure to mosquito bites and WNV:

 DEET –  Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon

eucalyptus or IR 3535 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.

 DRESS – Wear clothing that reduces the risk of skin exposure.

CONTINUED – How do I protect myself from exposure to mosquito bites / WNV?

 DOORS –  Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or

replace screens that have tears or holes to prevent mosquitoes from entering


 DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes that carry WNV bite in the early morning and

evening so it is important to wear repellent at this time.

 DRAIN or DUMP – 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 have a pond, use mosquito fish or

commercially available products to eliminate mosquito larvae.

Are there any other tips / information that I need to know about WNV?

 Report any “green pools” or pools of standing water to the City of Barstow’s Code

Enforcement Division at (760) 255-5190.

 The following are websites  where you can find more information about the

symptoms of West Nile Virus and other ways to prevent exposure:



 The City has pamphlets with information at City Hall available as well as our

website at for updates on the WNV in Barstow.

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