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Fremont-Rideout Offers Tips on West Nile Virus and Meningitis

Public Can Take Steps to Avoid These Diseases
As Well As Recognize Symptoms

YUBA CITY, Calif., July 13, 2012 -- Rideout Health has issued a reminder to its staff and patients that summer brings with it a higher risk of certain viral infections with many similar symptoms, such as West Nile Virus and viral meningitis, and is working with the Public Health Departments of Sutter and Yuba Counties to increase public awareness of precautions that can be taken.
Most viral infections are minor, such as a common cold, however, rarely they may cause more severe infections, such as meningitis. Several thousand Californians each year contract viral meningitis, and usually recover within a week or so. Viral infections most commonly are spread from one person to another primarily by mouth, droplets, (coughing, kissing, sharing toothbrushes, utensils, etc.) or contact with stool or other secretions, so take extra caution to avoid those exposures if someone is sick.

The less common West Nile virus is transmitted only by infected mosquitoes, but the symptoms are hard to separate from other viral infections, so the community is encouraged to "Fight the Bite" with these simple steps:

  • Around the home and yard, remove any standing water where mosquitoes breed; water in pools and fountains should be kept circulating. Change water in birdbaths, pet bowls, plant pots weekly. Clean gutters and remove old tires, bottle caps and other places that could hold water.
  • At dawn, dusk and into early evening, when mosquitoes are most active, don't venture outdoors without applying an EPA-registered repellent that contains either DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Wear long sleeves and long pants.
  • Check all screens for even tiny holes; don't leave unscreened doors or windows open.
  • Dead bird or squirrels should be reported to the California Public Health Hotline, at 877-968-2473.

Typically, most viral infections may cause fever, headache, other generalized achiness or other symptoms, such as nausea and vomiting, depending on the specific virus. If the symptoms seem much worse than expected, or are associated with a rash, Rideout suggests seeking medical attention. "Most viral infections do not require any specific treatment, including viral meningitis, but it can be hard to sort out at times. See your doctor if you are concerned that your symptoms are unusually severe" said Robert Plass, M.D., Fremont-Rideout's Chief Medical Officer.

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