SLO County resident dies from West Nile virus


A resident of San Luis Obispo County recently died from complications of West Nile virus, the first reported death from the virus in California in 2021.

Investigators believe the individual became infected with West Nile virus during travel to an area of California where the virus is common, and not while in SLO County. West Nile virus is usually transmitted to humans and animals by mosquitoes.

“We extend our sincere condolences to this patient’s family,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, SLO County health officer. “This loss is a tragic reminder that West Nile Virus is here in California and can cause very serious illness. Please, be sure to protect yourself from mosquito bites and drain any sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.”

While most people infected with West Nile do not experience any symptoms, about one in five experience flu-like symptoms and less than one percent develop serious illness.

To prevent mosquito bites, focus on protecting yourself and your home:

  • Apply a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Wear protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Be alert at dawn and dusk. Mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus usually bite in the early morning and evening.
  • Check and repair all screens, including screen doors, to keep mosquitoes out.
  • To eliminate mosquito breeding sites around your home, focus on eliminating standing water.