West Nile virus confirmed in mosquitoes

August 11, 2018

Courtesy of James Gathany/CDC Eliminating standing water, improving drainage in the landscape, weeding and proper mowing are just a few of the ways to help manage the mosquito population.

HUNTINGTON - West Nile virus has been confirmed in several groups of mosquitoes under surveillance in Cabell County, the Cabell-Huntington Health Department confirmed Friday.

No cases of human contraction have been reported. The department does not release where in Cabell County the positive mosquitoes were found.

West Nile virus is a relatively common disease; Cabell County also confirmed cases in 2017 and 2015. Cabell County reported West Virginia’s only case of human-contracted West Nile virus during the 2017 surveillance year (Jan. 1-Sept. 15), according to data from the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources.

The health department is continuing a four-month surveillance program to monitor mosquito-borne diseases in Cabell County, which began in late May, in conjunction with the West Virginia Office of Laboratory Studies. Mosquito traps have been placed throughout the county to monitor for other mosquito-borne illnesses like La Crosse encephalitis and Zika virus, neither of which have been found locally this year or in 2017.

The department will also investigate any complaints of heavy mosquito activity.

West Nile virus can cause symptoms like fever, headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rashes, said Dr. Michael Kilkenny, physician director for the Cabell-Huntington Health Department, though the disease commonly presents no symptoms in an infected person. Individuals older than 60 are typically more affected.

In rare cases, the virus may develop into a more serious illness, like encephalitis or meningitis, which can lead to hospitalization or, in rare cases, death.

Mosquito bites are largely avoidable, and the health department is encouraging residents to take precautions to avoid contracting the disease.

“You can significantly reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by eliminating potential places for standing water where mosquitoes love to breed, such as bird baths, tires, flower pots, wading pools and other containers,” wrote Karen Hall-Dundas, CHHD director of environmental health, in a statement. “Don’t forget to keep gutters clean and flowing and drill holes into the bottom of recycling or garbage containers to prevent water from stagnating.

“Make sure to repair or install window and door screens to keep mosquitoes from entering your home. Change out water in bird baths and pet watering bowls weekly, and place screening on rain barrels.”

For more information or to contact the health department, call 304-523-6483 or visit www.cabellhealth.org.

Follow reporter Bishop Nash on Twitter @BishopNash.

Tips for protecting yourself against mosquito bites

The Cabell-Huntington Health Department advises following the “4 Ds” to protect against mosquito bites:

n Dress: Wear long sleeves and long pants when outdoors.

n Deter: Always use insect repellents when outdoors.

n Dusk: Avoid peak mosquito hours during the day, typically dawn and dusk.

n Drain: Remove all standing water around your home.

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