The Douglas County Health Department reports that the West Nile virus has infected 22 people from across Douglas County this year, triple the amount from all of last season.
It was also reported that of the 22 confirmed cases, 14 people have been hospitalized including 13 with the more serious West Nile fever, a severe illness that affects the central nervous system such as encephalitis or meningitis.
The West Nile virus is spread to people through the bites of mosquitoes that have fed on birds that are infected with the disease. The Health Department reports that large populations of mosquitoes that carry the virus have been found in Douglas County at 16 potential breeding sites.
The Health Department is putting larvicide in known breeding areas as a preventative measure.
“This is the most active year for West Nile virus in at least a decade,” Health Director Dr.
Adi Pour stated in a press release. “We are asking everyone to follow the basic steps needed to protect yourself from this disease over the Labor Day weekend.”
The Health Department suggests these preventative steps:
Remove standing water or report it to the Health Department for treatment.
•Wear loose, long-sleeved shirts, plus pants, shoes and socks when outdoors.
•Apply a CDC approved mosquito repellant. That includes many with DEET but others are approved – check the label for that information.
•Limit outdoor activity between dawn and dusk when mosquitos that carry West Nile are most active, but remember mosquitoes can bite during any part of the day.
The Health Department states that most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms, but about one in five will develop a fever with head and body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks but these individuals generally will fully recover.