In the past week, Riverside County health officials have confirmed three cases of West Nile virus this year.

The first two are a 37-year-old man and 53-year-old woman, according to Dr. Cameron Kaiser, public health officer. The individuals live in western Riverside County.

Both patients were hospitalized but are expected to recover.

The third case is a Thermal resident This is the Coachella Valley’s first human case of West Nile infection this year.

The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District planned to be in the Thermal area to set more traps, increase larval surveillance to identify mosquito breeding sources, and carry out larval and adult control as necessary in an effort to reduce the number of mosquitoes and interrupt further transmission of the virus.

The virus is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Health officials emphasized that the risk of serious illness to humans is low. Most individuals infected with the virus will not experience any illness. Elderly individuals and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for serious illness.

“While West Nile is rarely life-threatening, it can be occasionally serious,” Kaiser said.

A comprehensive surveillance program to monitor the virus in Riverside County has been established by DEH’s Vector Control Program. However, a public vote to approve a property assessment to continue to fund the program was defeated in June.

The Board of Supervisors may consider its future during the Aug. 18 meeting.


Some ways to protect yourself

Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, especially at dawn and dusk, and wear long pants, long-sleeved shirts and other protective clothing outside.

Apply EPA-registered insect repellent that contains DEET.

Make sure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens. Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.

Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, such as old tires, buckets, flower pots and toys that can support mosquito breeding.

Fifteen human cases were reported last year in the county compared to 35 in 2013, and there has not been a death from the illness in the county since 2008.