A La Mesa man was recently hospitalized with West Nile virus and an El Cajon woman, who was treated as an outpatient, is listed as probably having the virus, the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) reported Friday.

West Nile virus
Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito/CDC

The 73-year-old man is currently recovering in a rehabilitation facility after being admitted for meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain and surrounding tissue that can result from West Nile virus infection. The 44-year-old woman has recovered from her illness, which included flu-like symptoms with a rash.  Both individuals reported having been bitten by mosquitoes near their homes before becoming ill.

“West Nile virus is a dangerous and potentially deadly disease,” said Wilma Wooten, M.D., M.P.H, County public health officer. “It’s important for the public to protect against West Nile virus by taking precautions, including avoiding outdoor activity at dawn and dusk, and using insect repellent with DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.”

San Diego County has reported West Nile virus in seven dead birds to date.

According to the California Department of Health, as of Tuesday there were 129 human West Nile virus cases in the state from 19 counties. They also report six deaths up to that point.

Humans contract West Nile when they are bitten by mosquitoes infected with the virus. When people are infected with West Nile, the virus will affect them one of three ways. West Nile neuroinvasive disease is the most serious type, infecting the brain and spinal cord. Neuroinvasive disease can lead to death, paralysis and brain damage. The milder viral infection is West Nile fever, in which people experience flu-like symptoms. The majority of people who contract West Nile will be asymptomatic, which means they show no symptoms. These cases are typically detected through blood donations or in the course of other routine medical tests.

About 90 percent of all cases are asymptomatic, while about 10 percent will develop West Nile fever. Only a very small number of infected individuals will show the serious symptoms associated with the neuroinvasive disease. Residents who are 65 years old and older are at higher risk for complications, but everyone is at risk for infection.  For more infectious disease news and informationvisit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page