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posted on July 01, 2009 08:50
First West Nile Virus of Season Confirmed
A BonnevilleCounty man in his 70s has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV) and has been hospitalized. The case is the first reported WNV infection of the season. In addition, this week the Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District reports finding their first batch of WNV-positive mosquitoes. Both findings are prompting health officials to remind people to take precautions and “Fight the Bite” of mosquitoes. 
“Given this year’s wet spring, we anticipate a lot of mosquito activity this summer,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Deputy State Epidemiologist. “It’s important that we all work to prevent mosquito bites by taking personal protective measures, such as wearing repellant and reducing moist mosquito breeding habitat around our homes.”
West Nile virus, which is usually spread through the bite of an infected mosquito, can cause serious illness in all age groups, but especially in people over the age of 50. Last year, 36 Idahoans became ill with WNV and the infection contributed to one death.
To reduce the likelihood of infection, you should 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.
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(Editors: For more information please contact Department of Health and Welfare Public Information Officer Emily Simnitt, 208-334-0693.)