West Nile Virus Found in Nevada

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A dead crow found in Nevada's capital has tested positive for the West Nile virus, in what officials said Monday is the first hard evidence of the virus in the state.

Mike Faisy, senior environmental health specialist for Carson City, said he picked up the dead bird at a woman's house on Thursday, and test results confirmed the presence of the West Nile virus on Friday.

Dr. Bradford Lee, the state health officer, said no cases of the virus involving people have been detected yet. He urged preventive measures, including use of insect repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants, making sure house screens fit properly and draining any standing water around homes.

State Veterinarian David Thain said people should advise health officials if they see any dead or sick birds. He also said horse owners should vaccinate horses against the virus as soon as possible.

Faisy said 20 mosquito traps were set up by Washoe County District Health Department staffers in the area where the crow was found, and the virus didn't show up in any of the mosquitos.

Officials said mosquito trapping and bird surveillance will be stepped up over the next few weeks and possibly months.

The efforts, said Faisy, will help to determine "if we have any more positive birds coming in, which would give us an idea if we have an infected local population or if the bird just flew in from another area."

The monitoring is part of a statewide coordinated effort in response to the danger posed by the mosquito-borne disease.

Participants include health or mosquito control districts in Washoe, Clark, Churchill and Douglas counties, Carson City and Mason Valley. The state is coordinating activities in rural areas with no mosquito control program.

Last year, Colorado was hardest hit by the virus, with 2,947 people sickened and 61 dying, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nationally, 9,858 people were diagnosed with health problems caused by the virus in 2003, with 262 dying.

Two Nevadans were infected with West Nile last year, but both contracted the disease while out of state, officials said.


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West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report