Mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus were discovered in the east Coachella Valley community of Mecca, officials announced Thursday.
The infected mosquitoes were collected from a trap near Johnson Street and Avenue 70, according to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.
“As temperatures increase, so do mosquitoes,” said Tammy Gordon, a district spokeswoman. “When mosquito numbers rise, disease risk also increases. Wearing EPA-approved repellent lowers your chance of being bitten and getting sick.”
Vector control officials said this was the first positive test in the eastern Coachella Valley in 2021. It was not immediately clear whether there were other infected mosquitos discovered countywide.
One person has died from WNV in California so far this year, according to the California Department of Public Health. The San Luis Obispo County resident also represents the only case of the virus in a human in 2021 statewide.
West Nile virus is transmitted to people and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. There is no cure, and one in five infected individuals will exhibit symptoms that can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea or skin rash. The symptoms can last for several days to months.
One in 150 people infected with the virus will require hospitalization. Severe symptoms include high fever, muscle weakness, neck stiffness, coma, paralysis and possibly death.
Those at greatest risk include seniors and individuals with compromised immune systems.
Mosquito season in Southern California generally spans May to October.
To reduce exposure to West Nile virus, residents are urged to:
— spend as little time as possible outdoors at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are generally on the move;
— wear pants and long-sleeved shirts during outdoor activity;
— use insect repellent with the active ingredients DEET, Picaridin, IR3535, or oil of lemon eucalyptus;
— ensure door and window screens are fitted properly to keep bugs out; and
— get rid of standing water, aside from pools properly treated with chemicals.