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posted on September 01, 2011 14:26

First West Nile Virus of the Season Confirmed 

The first indications of West Nile virus activity in 2011 are prompting health officials to remind people to take precautions to “Fight the Bite”:

  • A man in his 50s was hospitalized in Southeast Idaho last week with a West Nile Virus infection.
  • Gem County Mosquito Abatement District recently reported a positive test for WNV in mosquitoes collected from the Emmett area.
  • A Nevada resident potentially contracted a WNV infection while recently visiting Ada County.

“As Labor Day approaches, we want to remind people to include mosquito repellent in their outdoor plans,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “Mosquitoes are plentiful this time of year and this is a good warning for people to take precautions to avoid their bites. West Nile virus is part of our ecosystem and can cause serious illness. We also know that infection is possible when mosquitoes are active – and they are active right now.” 

West Nile virus is usually contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms of infection often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people over the age of 50. Last year, three Idahoans were reported with WNV. In 2006, Idaho led the nation in West Nile illnesses with almost 1,000 infections, which contributed to 23 deaths.

To reduce the likelihood of infection, people are advised to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. In addition, you should:

  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children;
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens; and
  • Reduce standing water on your property. Check and drain toys, trays or pots which may hold water and change bird baths and static decorative ponds weekly as they may provide a suitable mosquito breeding habitat.

West Nile virus does not usually affect domestic animals, including dogs and cats, but can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is no vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to keep their horses vaccinated annually.

For more information, visit www.westnile.idaho.gov.

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Emily Simnitt
Public Information Officer
450 West State Street
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, Idaho 83720
Phone: 208-334-0693
Fax: 208 334-5926