Mosquitoes from Wayne County to eastern
parts of Cabell County have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the past.
The Cabell Huntington Health Department helps to monitor the virus in those
regions. The mosquitoes are submitted to the West Virginia Office of Laboratory
Services in Charleston for testing.
Cabell Huntington Health Department’s Public
Information Officer Elizabeth Ayers said about 3,000-4,000 mosquitoes
have been tested from this region this year.
“Throughout the summer we have a
specific team here that focuses primarily on setting traps throughout the
county and so throughout the summer we have been testing them and it’s been
coming back recently I would say in the last couple of weeks, that we have seen
positive samples of West Nile virus,” Ayers said.
West Virginia is one of 47 states
reporting West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. So far this
year, 1,100 cases have been detected in the United States. That’s
the highest number of cases since West Nile was first recorded in 1999 by the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the past two weeks, two human cases of
encephalitis and one case of West Nile virus have been detected in West Virginia.
West Nile most often occurs in the late summer and early fall and is spread by
the bite of a mosquito infected when they feed on infected birds. Ayers said mild
temperatures and dryness last winter have contributed to the higher than normal
rate in the state.
“It’s been around for a very long time
and some people carry the virus and just don’t know it. They don’t have
symptoms and it’s not an active case, but it can still show up positive and
then some people have developed immunity to it,” Ayers said.
Only 20 percent of those infected show
symptoms that include a fever, headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting,
diarrhea and body rash. They normally show between three and 14 days after being
bitten. Only one in 150 will develop severe illness. Ayers said there are keys
to avoiding West Nile.
“It’s really important to wear mosquito
repellent. If you’re going to be outside, try to wear light, cool clothing
that’s long. Try and stay away from areas that have a lot of water and people
are encouraged to clean out their gutters which can hold water which that is a
population area where a lot of mosquitoes like to hang out,” Ayers said.
Ayers said there is no reason to panic
if symptoms are noticed.
“You just need to monitor is closely and
we encourage them to call their physician if they’re overly concerned about
that, but really it is something that we do see and do work with time and time
again,” Ayers said.
Officials say people age 50 and older
are at a higher risk to get severe illness.