First 2016 Kern County Confirmed St. Louis Encephalitis Death
November 15th, 2016 | by: Michelle Corson | Category: Press Releases

1800 Mt. Vernon Avenue
Bakersfield, CA 93306-3302


Matthew Constantine

November 18, 2016

Michelle Corson
Public Relations Officer

First 2016 Kern County Confirmed St. Louis Encephalitis Death

Contact: Michelle Corson, Public Relations Officer, 661-868-0288


November 18, 2016

Bakersfield, CA – Kern County Public Health Services has received confirmation of the first Kern County St. Louis Encephalitis-associated death this year. The Kern County resident had pre-existing health conditions.

“This is a tragic reminder that serious diseases can be transmitted by mosquitoes,” says Matt Constantine, Director of Kern County Public Health Services. “We strongly encourage residents to protect themselves and family members from mosquitoes.”

St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected Culex mosquito, the same mosquito that transmits West Nile virus. Like West Nile virus, SLEV is not transmitted person to person. SLEV has been found historically in many regions of California, such as the Central Valley and southern California, but has been detected rarely.

Most people bitten by an SLEV-infected mosquito will have few to no symptoms. Others will develop mild flu-like symptoms, including fever and headache from 5 to 15 days after being infected. Severe SLEV can result in serious symptoms that affect the central nervous system such as stiff neck and mental confusion. Elderly people and those with weakened immune systems are more at risk for developing severe symptoms of the disease.

There is no specific treatment for SLEV. Severe SLEV illness is treated by supportive therapy that may include hospitalization, respiratory support, IV fluids, and prevention of other infections.

Like other mosquito-borne diseases such as West Nile virus and Zika virus, there are steps the public can take to decrease the risk of infection:
* Do not allow water to collect and stagnate in old tires, flower pots, swimming pools, birdbaths, pet bowls, or other containers. These are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
* Keep swimming pools operating properly; drain water from pool covers.
* Stock garden ponds with fish that eat mosquito larvae such as gambusia, goldfish or others.
* Empty and scrub the walls of birdbaths and wading pools at least weekly to remove any attached eggs.
* Avoid mosquito-infested areas and use mosquito repellent on exposed skin.
* Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors, especially if you are older or have a weakened immune system.
* Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens in good repair.

Contact your local mosquito and vector control agency if there is a significant mosquito problem where you live or work. For more information the public can call 661-321-3000 or visit our website at