Health Officials Confirm West Nile Virus Case

A 65-year-old Saratoga man had symptoms which associate with a
mild case of the virus
By Tony Burchyns Staff Writer

Morgan Hill – Santa Clara County health officials confirmed Tuesday the first reported human case of West Nile Virus in the Bay Area this year. The victim is a 65-year-old Saratoga man who has recovered after developing symptoms associated with a mild case of West Nile Virus.

The man noticed symptoms July 28 and was tested on Aug. 3. Additional tests confirming West Nile Virus were completed late Monday by the State Department of Health Services. Health officials said one more human case is currently under investigation.

The announcement Tuesday coincides almost exactly with the date of last year’s first confirmation of a county resident contracting West Nile Virus, which was made Aug. 16, 2005.

“This is the time of year we start seeing it in people,” said Joy Alexiou, spokeswoman for the Santa Clara County Health Department. If the weather stays warm, she said, more cases could be detected through October. Five human cases were reported in Santa Clara County in 2005.

Health officials warned that the disease is particularly dangerous for people older than 50 and those with lowered immune systems.

The number of cases of West Nile Virus has spiked statewide in the past few weeks, reaching 49 as of Tuesday.

Santa Clara County Vector Control officials say they expect a rise in human cases this year. Officials have already found four times as many infected mosquito groups – 13 “pools” this summer as opposed to three last year – and the number of dead birds that have been discovered continues to rise past 80, with vector control workers finding as many as 15 in a single day.

Last year 144 birds with WNV were discovered in the county. Most of the infected mosquitoes and birds continue to be found in the San Jose, Saratoga and Campbell.

“It’s more widespread,” said vector control spokeswoman Kriss Costa, referring to the numbers of infected mosquitoes her colleagues are finding in their traps. “We have a long time ahead of us before we get to October.”

On Aug. 9 officials confirmed a dead bird with WNV was found in Gilroy. So far it is the only confirmed evidence of the disease in South County.

Nevertheless Costa urged residents in Gilroy, Morgan Hill and San Martin to stay vigilant in avoiding mosquitoes as much as possible.

Vector control officials have carried out three mosquito foggings in the Campbell and Saratoga area this summer. Because the infected man lives west of Highway 85, outside the fogging areas, and because infected birds have been discovered in that area, officials are planning another fogging for next week. More information is available at the vector control district’s Web site: www.scc.vector.org.

Tony Burchyns covers Morgan Hill for The Times. Reach him (408) 779-4106 ext. 201 or [email protected]

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