The Riverside County Department of Public Health today confirmed the Coachella Valley's first two human cases of West Nile virus this year, bringing the current countywide total to 12 including the August diagnosis of a southwest Riverside County resident.
An 81-year-old Palm Springs woman and a 23-year-old woman from the Thermal area were both hospitalized, then continued their recuperation at home, DPH Director for Disease Control Barbara Cole told City News Service.
"They were ill enough to be hospitalized, but the fact they've been hospitalized and are recovering at home would show we can expect a good outcome," she said.
A half-dozen sentinel chickens from four coops in the eastern Coachella Valley—sentinel chickens are used a bellwether to gauge the spread of infectious diseases—also recently tested positive for the mosquito-borne virus, bringing the total infected fowl this year to 19, according to the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.
The disease causes flu-like symptoms in most people but can be dangerous for the very young and very old, or people with compromised immune systems.
A 60-year-old woman from southwest Riverside County was found to be infected with West Nile in August, marking the first confirmed human case countywide this year. She was hospitalized for treatment of virus-related symptoms and then started recovering at home, according to public health officials.
As of Sept. 24, 176 human West Nile virus cases have been reported among 25 counties in California, according to Westnile.ca.gov. Twelve of those cases, five of which were reported during the last week, have been in Riverside County.
There have been six WNV-related fatalities reported statewide thus far in 2013: one in Glenn County, three in Los Angeles Angeles County, one in Sacramento County and one in San Joaquin County, according to Westnile.ca.gov.
Nine horses statewide have contracted West Nile virus—one in Riverside County.
The risk of serious illness to most healthy people is low—less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile can develop a neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis, officials said.
Anyone with symptoms should call a doctor.
The Riverside County Department of Public Health's information line is 951-358-5107.
—Maggie Avants and City News Service contributed to this report.