Mosquitoes collected at Lake Los Carneros on April 2 have tested positive for West Nile Virus, Santa Barbara health officials announced Tuesday.
The positive results are the first in Santa Barbara County since 2006, and the first at the lake since 2005. The county’s Mosquito and Vector Management District is continuing to inspect sites, including the Goleta lake, and is treating them to kill mosquito larvae.
Most people who become infected with West Nile Virus do not develop any symptoms, though about one in five will experience a headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1 percent of those infected can develop a neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis that can lead to death. People 50 years old and older and people with diabetes or high blood pressure are at greatest risk of complications, according to the Public Health Department.
California experienced 801 cases of West Nile Virus last year, the second highest since the virus first entered the state in 2003. Of those cases, 31 were fatal and 561 were neuroinvasive, the more serious neurological form the disease.
According to state health officer Dr. Karen Smith, the drought could have contributed to the current West Nile Virus activity by creating more limited sources of water for birds and mosquitoes.