The Coachella Valley's first two human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) have been confirmed by the Riverside County Department of Public Health. The Coachella Valley Mosquito and Vector Control District received confirmation September 24 that a 23 -year-old woman in the Thermal area and an 81-year-old Palm Springs man contracted the virus.
Both residents were admitted to the hospital, but have since been released.
In addition to the human cases, six sentinel chickens have tested positive for WNV. The infected sentinel chickens are from four coops located in the east Valley. Three of the coops are located in the area from Mecca down to the shoreline of the Salton Sea, and one coop is located further east along the north shore of the Salton Sea.
This brings the total number of WNV-positive sentinel chickens in the Coachella Valley to 19 this year; 42 positive mosquito samples; and 2 human cases. Last year at this time, there were 46 WNV-positive sentinel chickens, 110 positive mosquito samples, and 2 confirmed WNV-human local cases.
"We are definitely concerned about the increased activity of West Nile virus in the Coachella Valley, particularly in the East Valley where we have seen the most infections," says District Vector Ecologist, Gregory S. White, PhD. "This virus can make people very sick and we are taking all the necessary steps to limit further infections to Valley residents."
In Palm Springs, District staff will perform barrier treatments throughout the day September 26 and 27, weather permitting. The application consists of a light mist applied manually to vegetation where mosquitoes hide and rest.
Due to the elevated activity of WNV in the east Valley, the District has scheduled ultra-low volume (ULV) ground applications, using truck mounted sprayers to reduce the risk of disease transmission to humans by adult mosquitoes.