OC Reports First West Nile Virus Case – What You Need to Know

An Orange County man tested positive recently for West Nile virus (WNV) infection, becoming the county’s first human WNV infection in 2015. The man has CHOC Children's Infectious Diseasenow recovered.

As of August 12, there are 36 human cases of WNV reported in California. Last year, there were 280 reported human infections of WNV and nine WNV related deaths in Orange County. The disease is recurring every year during the summer months and into the fall, according to county health officials.

For answers on how to protect your family from this virus, check out the following Q&A with Dr. Jasjit Singh, pediatric infectious disease specialist at CHOC Children’s.

Q: What is West Nile virus and who is at risk for infection?

A: West Nile virus is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, most cases of human infection occur in the elderly and in those with impaired immune systems.

Q: What are the symptoms?

A: The vast majority of WNV infections (~80%) are asymptomatic. Most symptomatic patients will have fever, sometimes accompanied by other nonspecific signs such as headache, nausea, vomiting or rash. Less than 1% of infected individuals will develop a neurologic disease, such as meningitis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or acute flaccid paralysis.

Q: What is the treatment?

A: No vaccine or specific antiviral treatments for West Nile virus infection are available. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms, however. In severe cases, particularly those with neurologic involvement, patients often need to be hospitalized.

Q: How can families protect themselves from this virus?


  • Eliminate standing water on your property, which can serve as a breeding area for mosquitoes.
  • Install door and window screens, to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.
  • When possible, avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • When outdoors, if possible, wear long pants and long sleeves and use an insect repellent during the summer and fall. Look for repellents containing DEET, picardin or oil of lemon eucalyptus, which often provide longer-lasting protection.

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Eye Infections in Kids

Pink eye isn’t the only eye problem found in babies and children that parents should be aware of, a CHOC Children’s infectious disease specialist says. eye infections

Here are some other eye issues that Dr. Negar Ashouri recommends parents keep on their radars:

  • A stye (or sty): This is a small, painful lump, usually found on the inside or outside of the eyelid. It’s an occlusion of the glands around the eye and can become infected but does not affect vision. Applying a warm compress to the eye a few times daily will help it drain and heal. Eye drops can help if it’s infected.
  • Blocked tear duct: Infants’ tear ducts can sometimes get blocked, making the inner eye close to the nasal bridge appear swollen. This typically can happen in the first few weeks of life and does not affect vision. A parent or caregiver can massage the area to help open the duct, and often it will open on its own. If not, eye drops will help.
  • Herpes infections in or around the eye: Children can get a herpes viral infection of the eye. This occurs after close contact with someone who has a cold sore (i.e. kisses) or from autoinoculation from HSV in the mouth. After the primary infection, it can also reactivate at a later time.

If parents notice small red bumps or blisters on the skin around the child’s eye and also redness in the eye, call a medical professional.

“You do need to seek medical care for this because the child can be put on anti-viral medication,” Dr. Ashouri says. “This is a dangerous problem because it can lead to blindness.”

Dr. Ashouri says it’s important to call the doctor or seek medical help for any of these problems or an eye infection if these symptoms are accompanied by visual changes or the eye becomes very red.

Learn more about infectious disease services at CHOC.

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