Two Probably Cases Of Virus Found, One In Tyler County
While parts of the United States are seeing an increase in human cases and deaths associated with West Nile virus, the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services (OEPS) says that is not the situation in West Virginia, although basic mosquito bite prevention efforts make sense in reducing the chances of being infected by a mosquito.
Typically, OEPS sees zero to four cases of human West Nile infection every year. State Health Officer and Commissioner for Public Health Dr. Marian Swinker said, “We have seen an increase in West Nile virus in mosquitoes, but not in humans. Currently, we have two probable human cases involving a male in Tyler County and a male in Kanawha County. No fatalities have occurred.”
West Nile is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus which is also found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses, and some other mammals. It’s believed to have been in the United States since the early summer of 1999, possibly longer. In West Virginia, West Nile virus in mosquitoes typically flares up in the summer and continues into the fall.
“The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Approximately four out of five people who are infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms at all. Up to 20 percent have milder symptoms such as fever, headache, and even some nausea and vomiting. Only about one person in 150 that are infected with West Nile virus will develop severe illness that may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, memory problems, tremors, seizures, or even paralysis or death,” Swinker said.
Dr. Swinker says “What matters most is for everyone to learn basic preventive steps to protect not only ourselves, but our families, against mosquito bites.” Basic mosquito bite preventive actions include: avoiding areas where mosquitoes are prone to be at dusk or at dark; wearing long sleeves and pants; wearing insect repellent as recommended by the manufacturer; and, emptying standing water containers on your property such as jugs, buckets, gutters, and kiddie pools that could serve as a mosquito breeding bed.
Questions about mosquito concerns locally may be directed to the local health department.
The Wetzel-Tyler Health Department can be reached at 304-337-2001.
The Office of Epidemiology and Prevention Services posts bimonthly updates on West Nile virus cases in West Virginia at www.dide.wv.gov.