SAN DIEGO - A dead bird recently found in La Jolla was the first in San Diego County to test positive for West Nile virus this year, the county Department of Environmental Health announced Tuesday.
The National Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 4,725 people contracted West Nile virus this year, 219 of whom died, including 15 fatalities in California.
By contrast, San Diego County has only reported the dead American crow in La Jolla and a 19-year-old Escondido man who tested positive for WNV when he donated blood in August. He never became ill, according to the DEH.
About one in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop serious symptoms that could prove fatal, according to the agency. The risk is greater for people over 50 years old or who might have weakened immune systems.
Four out of five people who are infected will not have any symptoms.
"This is a good reminder that West Nile virus is here, but that it can be prevented," said Jack Miller, DEH director. "We want to remind people that they can take some simple steps to protect themselves."
The department recommends that people stay in around dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are active, or wear long sleeves and pants; dump out water in plant saucers, buckets, wheelbarrows or old spare tires where the insects can breed; and report dead birds and green swimming pools at abandoned houses.