Kern County’s first confirmed case of St. Louis Encephalitis Virus

July 7, 2023 /

Summer is here, and everyone is ready to be outside. Sadly so are the mosquitoes, and the first human case of the St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV) is in Kern. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the virus is contracted by a mosquito bite and typically has no symptoms. However, when people get sick from the virus, they may have a fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and tiredness. 

In more severe cases, people may develop neuroinvasive diseases, such as encephalitis or meningitis. The CDC website states that SLEV may last for four to 14 days. After being diagnosed with SLEV, people should not donate blood for four months after having the virus. 

There are no vaccines for SLEV, so people are advised to wear repellent, cover doors and windows, and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants. In the 100-plus-degree weather that comes with Kern County summers, trying to stay covered may not be an option. 

Kern County Public Health Department suggests taking steps to reduce mosquito-prone areas. 

“This first confirmation of a mosquito-borne illness in a Kern County resident should serve as a serious reminder that we all need to protect ourselves against mosquitoes,” says Brynn Carrigan, Director of Kern County Public Health, in a press release. “There are layers of protection that we encourage everyone to utilize, such as using repellant when outdoors and stopping mosquitoes at the source by removing standing water around your property.” 

Steps to reduce mosquito-prone areas include:

·         Remove standing or stagnate water from containers such as flowerpots, fountains, birdbaths, pet bowls, and wading pools. 

·         Clean/scrub containers that collect water weekly to remove any potential mosquito eggs.

·         Maintain swimming pools in working condition.

·         Stock garden ponds with fish that eat mosquito larvae. ·         Report areas of mosquito infestation to your local vector control district.

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JaNell Gore

Ja'Nell Gore is a student at Cal State Bakersfield. In addition to writing for Kern Sol News she is a poet who loves any chance she has to perform and be with her community.