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posted on August 16, 2013 10:40

NEWS RELEASE--FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                       DATE: August 16, 2013


Contact: Tom Shanahan
Public Information Officer
(208) 334-0668

West Nile Virus Human Infections Increase

Three new cases of people infected with West Nile virus are reported from southwest Idaho, bringing the current state total to five. Ongoing reports of illness are prompting health officials to warn the public to continue to take precautions to protect themselves.

A Washington County man in his 40s, an Owyhee County man over the age of 60, and a woman from Payette County in her 30s were all recently infected, in addition to the two previously reported cases from Payette County. Elmore County is also reporting mosquitoes have been detected with West Nile virus, discovered by routine surveillance, bringing the number of Idaho counties confirmed to have mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus to 11.  

"The increase in West Nile virus activity is a reminder that people are at risk for the mosquito-borne disease until a killing frost, and is a good warning for people to continue to take precautions,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “It is very important that we all prevent mosquito bites and take protective measures; this includes wearing repellent and reducing mosquito breeding habitat around our homes.”

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, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people older than 50. To reduce the likelihood of infection, people are advised to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. In addition, you should:

  • Apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children.
  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors.
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
  • Reduce standing water on your property. Check and drain toys, trays or pots which may hold water. Change the water in 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, but it 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 vaccinate their horses annually.

Last year, 17 people in Idaho reported West Nile virus infections, with West Nile activity reported in 11 Idaho counties. In 2006, Idaho led the nation in West Nile illnesses with almost 1,000 infections, which contributed to 23 deaths.

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