West Nile virus case detected in San Luis Obispo County

West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquito bites.
West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquito bites. Vida Staff Photo

A 50-year-old San Luis Obispo County man who traveled to Fresno County and was bitten by an infected mosquito has contracted the West Nile virus.

The unnamed man displayed no symptoms. The disease was detected Monday when he was screened for a blood donation, County Health Officer Dr. Penny Borenstein said. Because the man does not have symptoms, he is not receiving medical treatment. No other information about him was available.

“When people give blood, we screen for a bunch of things, including West Nile virus,” Borenstein said.

West Nile is not transmitted from person to person.

This is the first case of the virus this year. Another traveler contracted the disease in 2014, and the last case contracted in San Luis Obispo County was in 2009.

Borenstein said people should take steps to avoid mosquito bites — wearing long sleeves and pants and using mosquito repellant when outdoors.

“We just want to make people aware that we have had a few cases of West Nile virus in the county,” she said. “Mosquito bites are itchy and annoying, but they can have other consequences as well.”

Most people with the virus do not display symptoms. Mild cases of the disease cause flu-like symptoms, including nausea, fevers and headaches.

Severe cases can cause brain infections and death, Borenstein said.