Press Release: First Detection of St. Louis Encephalitis Virus in Merced County

August 17, 2017

MERCED, CA– The Merced County Mosquito Abatement District received confirmation that one sentinel chicken from Merced County tested positive for St. Louis Encephalitis Virus (SLEV). SLEV is related to West Nile Virus (WNV) and is transmitted via the bite of Culex mosquitoes, the same mosquitoes that transmit WNV.

Like WNV, most people who become infected with SLEV will never feel sick. People who do feel sick may have mild flulike symptoms; a small number of people will exhibit symptoms that include: headache, confusion, disorientation, and dizziness. Seizures, paralysis, coma, and sometimes death may occur. People who are older and those with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop the severe symptoms. There is no specific treatment for SLEV.

“The sentinel chicken sample that tested positive for SLEV is the first detection of the virus in Merced County in over 40 years”, according to General Manager Rhiannon Jones of Merced County Mosquito Abatement District. “People need to continue to take precautions by protecting themselves and their families from mosquito bites.”

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