First Human West Nile Virus Death for 2014 in Sacramento County


Department of Health and Human Services
Sherri Z. Heller

8/6/2014 10:00 PM

Media Contact:

Laura McCasland    (916) 875-2008


SACRAMENTO – West Nile virus (WNV) has claimed its first 2014 human life in Sacramento County and in the State of California.  The 74 year-old woman had underlying chronic disease, and had been hospitalized.

“This is a very sad outcome, one we had hoped to prevent.  We are working to educate people about steps that can be taken to prevent contracting West Nile Virus,” said Olivia Kasirye, M.D., Health Officer for Sacramento County. 

In Sacramento County, as of today, August 6, there are seven additional cases under investigation.  Public Health is still gathering information on these individuals.

West Nile Virus was first detected in birds in Sacramento County in July, 2004.  The first human case was reported in Sacramento County in October 2004, with a total of three human cases that year.  Historically, when WNV is established in a geographic area (there are infected mosquitoes, birds and humans,), the second year is when the most human infections are reported. Sacramento County followed this pattern in 2005. 

WNV is transmitted to humans and animals through a mosquito bite.  Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.  While 80 percent of those infected with WNV will have no symptoms and not realize they have been infected, it is still important to take personal precautions to prevent contracting the virus.  People over 50 years of age and those with compromised immune systems are at greatest risk for serious illness. 

The most effective ways for individuals to avoid mosquito bites and prevent WNV are:
  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET, Picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, according to label instructions.
  • Ensure doors and windows have tight-fitting screens.  Repair or replace screens that have tears or holes.
  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can support mosquito breeding.
  • Avoid going outdoors when mosquitos are most active, at dawn and dusk.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants when possible.

For more information on West Nile Virus, you may visit