ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. – Health officials have confirmed the first case of West Nile virus, a disease spread from mosquitoes to humans, this year in St. Louis County.

The St. Louis County Department of Public Health sent a memo advising of one patient with West Nile virus, though did not disclose additional details on what might have led up to that case.

County health officials say the recent case serves as a reminder that mosquitoes are active in the late summer and early fall. Avoiding mosquito bites can help prevent contracting the virus.

“It is important for everyone to take steps to reduce the chance of contracting West Nile virus,” said Dr. Kanika Cunningham, director of the department. “Even though serious West Nile virus cases in humans are rare, it is important to minimize our exposure. We can do this by eliminating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and multiply, and by taking steps to prevent mosquito bites.”

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of a house mosquito that picked up the virus by feeding on an infected bird. Common symptoms include fever, nausea, headache and muscle aches. Symptoms may last from a few days to a few weeks. However, some people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.

When outdoors, people should use insect repellant and also consider long-sleeve shirts, pants and loose-fitting clothing when weather allows for it.

Officials say extra steps, like closing windows and doors, replacing sources of standing water frequently and using repellant. Residents are also asked to report locations that may produce large amounts of mosquitoes to their local health department.