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Summer Months Peak Season For West Nile Virus

Above: The Aedes triseriatus mosquito is known as one of the many arthropodal vectors responsible for spreading the arboviral encephalitis, West Nile virus (WNV) to human beings through their bite when obtaining a blood meal.

Aired 7/31/13 on KPBS News.

In San Diego County, three crows have tested positive for West Nile virus in recent weeks. KPBS Morning Edition's Deb Welsh speaks with Chris Conlan, a county health official, to learn what makes the virus so prevalent.

— In recent weeks, three cases of West Nile virus have been discovered in San Diego County. KPBS Morning Edition's Deb Welsh speaks with Chris Conlan of the county Department of Environmental Health to find out why we're seeing multiple cases this time of year and how to keep you and your family safe.

Q: Is the virus more prevalent during the summer? And if so, why?

A: There's a number of things that go into it, but the primary one in this particular instance is temperature. West Nile virus will proliferate much faster during warmer temperatures — so usually later in July, August and September, those are pretty much the peak months.

Q: Can you describe the symptoms of West Nile virus?

A: In fact, four out of five people usually don't experience any symptoms from it, but for those that do, the usual suspect symptoms are going to be things like a fever and pretty nasty headache that persists for a couple of days. Then again, it can get worse. In the case where people have weakened immune systems, for whatever reason it decides to wreaks havoc with their system, it can progress to a pretty nasty encephalitis-like condition where you end up in the hospital.

Q: Now there's no treatment or vaccine for the virus, so what is it we can do to protect ourselves?

A: Because it's only really transmitted by mosquito, the big thing here is to stop getting bitten by mosquitoes. You can do that in a number of ways. Of course, the big one is by wearing mosquito repellent to prevent bites. You can also put on long sleeves and long pants, especially during the hours when mosquitoes are biting the most, which is dusk and dawn. And then, of course, there's always trying to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in your own backyard. So, it's a good idea to walk around your yard, keep an out for any potential sources of standing water and eliminate those as soon as you find them because it only takes about a week for a mosquito to go from an egg to adult in a standing water source.

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