Incline resident contracts West Nile |

Incline resident contracts West Nile

Megan Michelson

INCLINE VILLAGE – It started with a rash on his back. Then he felt like he had the flu. Then the headaches began, along with neck pains.

When his temperature topped 104 degrees, it was time to seek medical help.

Like most people, the 30-year-old Incline Village man didn’t think he was susceptible to West Nile virus, which was first detected in California last year and in Nevada this summer.

“I thought that it was overblown in the media,” said the man, who asked not to be identified. “I never thought I’d get it.”

He spent four hours in the emergency room, being treated with Tylenol to reduce his temperature and Vicodin to relieve the pain.

Doctors administered a spinal tap to test for possible viral infections, and a week later the tests came back positive for West Nile virus.

The man contracted viral meningitis, an infection of the fluid that surrounds the brain, which kept him bedridden and out of work for more than a week.

Because he travels frequently for his job, he isn’t certain where he may have contracted the virus, which is carried by mosquitoes that bite infected birds then spread the virus by biting humans and animals.

His is the first human case of West Nile virus to be treated in neighboring Washoe County, according to the Washoe County District Health Department.

There are now 11 confirmed cases of West Nile in Nevada. Five are in Clark County, one in Washoe County and the rest in Churchill County.

In California, 249 West Nile virus infections have been detected in humans, mainly in counties in the southern part of the state. Six people have died, according to the California Department of Health Services in Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

There is no human vaccine or treatment for the virus, but there’s no need to panic, officials said.

Most people who become infected with the virus don’t become ill.

According to the Department of Health Services, only 20 percent of infected individuals will have mild to moderate flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache and body aches.

Those older than 50 are more likely to become severely ill.

“West Nile virus is something to be aware of, in the same way you’re aware of ticks when you’re out hiking,” said Jamesina Scott, a vector ecologist for the Placer County Mosquito Abatement District program.

Precautionary steps can be taken to prevent mosquito bites, Scott said.

Wear long clothing or mosquito repellent with DEET during dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are the most active.

She also suggested eliminating sources of standing water, in puddles, tires, toys or flowerpots that support breeding mosquitoes.