Coachella Valley, Calif. -

The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District has received confirmation, from the Riverside County Department of Public Health, of two human cases of West Nile Virus here in the Coachella Valley.

One of the cases is from the Mecca area and the other is from the City of Rancho Mirage.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals - less than 1 percent - can develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.

People 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicates that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.

The District's General Manager, Branka B. Lothrop, PhD, indicated that these two local cases remind us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites and to remember that the most effective ways for individuals to prevent exposure to mosquito bites and WNV is to abide by the following:

• Apply Insect Repellent when Outdoors. Use a repellent with DEET (N, N-diethyl-m-toluamide), permethrin, picaridin (KBR 3023), oil of lemon eucalyptus [p-methane 3, 8-diol (PMD)] or IR3535 according to the instructions on the product label. DEET products should not be used on infants under two months of age and should be used in concentrations of 30% or less on older children. Oil of lemon eucalyptus should not be used on children under three years of age.

• Be Aware of Peak Mosquito Hours. The hours from dusk to dawn are peak biting times for many mosquitoes. Consider rescheduling outdoor activities that occur during evening or early morning.

• Clothing Can Help Reduce Mosquito Bites. Wearing long-sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors will help keep mosquitoes away from your skin.

• Drain Standing Water. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Limit the number of places around your home for mosquitoes to breed by either draining or discarding items that hold water. Check rain gutters and drains. Empty any unused flowerpots and wading pools, and change water in birdbaths frequently.

• Install or Repair Screens. Keep mosquitoes outside by having tightly-fitting screens on all of your windows and doors.