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First human cases of West Nile reported in the Valley this year

West Nile 9-19-12

RANCHO MIRAGE, Calif. - Andrew Hayduke and his son Drew are regulars at the tennis courts at Whitewater Park in Rancho Mirage.

Hayduke says, "We play a lot of tennis and try to come every other day, sometimes a little more. There are all kinds of bugs this time of year."

That includes mosquitoes. On Wednesday, the Riverside County Dept. of Public Health announced that one person in Mecca and another in Rancho Mirage tested positive for West Nile virus.

The department says 72-year-old man and 22-year-old woman were both hospitalized and are now home.

"Both individuals are recovering and at this point, they're doing well," said Barbara Cole, of the Riverside County Dept. of Public Health.

The two local cases bring the total number of human cases in Riverside County for the year to seven, which ties last year's record.

Forunately, it doesn't match the county's peak year for infection.

"In 2004, we actually had 116 cases with three deaths. Seven cases, in comparison of course, is a relatively small number," said Cole.

The department warns mosquito season isn't over just yet and the number of cases could still increase close to home.

"It's kind of scary and I think you need to take precautions," said Hayduke.

Ways to avoid mosquito bites include:

• Applying insect repellent when outdoors.

• Being aware of peak mosquito biting hours at dusk and dawn.

• Wearing long-sleeves, pants and socks when outdoors.

• Draining standing water.

• Installing or repairing screens on all of your windows and doors.

Hayduke says he has tricks of his own to help keep his six-year-old tennis star safe on the court.

"It would be nice to play in love-sleeves, but playing at this time of year would be kind of difficult. So we go with bug spray," he said.

The county health department says mosquito season will last through October. Until then, it'll continue to work closely with the Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District.

Anyone experiencing problems with mosquitoes or areas with standing water, is asked to contact Vector Control.

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