West Nile virus has contributed to the death of a Twin Falls County man. The man, who is over the age of 60, is the first Idaho resident to die from West Nile infection this year.
“We were very saddened to hear of the West Nile-associated death,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Fall is approaching, but mosquitoes are still very active and we urge people to take precautions and Fight the Bite whenever mosquitoes are present.”
Statewide, seven other residents have tested positive for West Nile virus this year. Symptoms of West Nile infection include headache, body aches, fever and sometimes a rash. More serious infections include encephalitis, meningitis, and other nervous system disorders. People are advised to call their healthcare provider if symptoms interfere with their daily routine, or are symptoms they would normally call their doctor about.
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes; it does not spread by person-to-person contact or from animals to people. Because mosquitoes are the main form of transmission, people are advised to ‘Fight the Bite’ of mosquitoes and:
· Insect-proof their homes by repairing or replacing screens;
· Reduce standing water on their property that provides mosquito breeding habitat, such as bird baths and decorative ponds;
· Cover up exposed skin when outdoors;
· Apply insect repellent approved by the EPA to exposed skin and clothing. Follow instructions on the product label, especially for children;
· Avoid mosquitoes when they are most active at dawn and dusk; and
· Report dead birds and squirrels to your local Fish and Game office.
In 2007 and 2008, one death was reported each year from West Nile infections, with 23 deaths reported in 2006. During 2006, over 1,000 infections of West Nile were reported in the state.
Additional information about the virus is available from the Department of Health and Welfare’s web site at http://www.westnile.idaho.gov, which is updated regularly. The Idaho State Department of Agriculture’s Urban Pest Management program also has information available on steps to prevent home-grown mosquito infestations. This information is available on ISDA’s web site at http://www.idahoag.us.
(Editors: For more information, please contact Tom Shanahan at 334-0668, or your District Health Department Public Information Officer.)