Clark County Reports First West Nile Case

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The Southern Nevada Health District reported Clark County’s first human case associated with West Nile virus for 2009. The patient, a 61-year-old woman, contracted the mild form of the illness, West Nile fever. In another component of its West Nile surveillance program, the health district’s vector control program has detected West Nile virus in a cluster of mosquitoes in the 89119 zip code.

West Nile virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. The illness is not spread person to person. In 2008, Nevada had 16 reported human cases of West Nile virus.

The health district’s environmental health specialists routinely survey and treat known breeding sources for mosquitoes and trap them for identification. In addition, they are tested for West Nile virus, Western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis. West Nile virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. The illness is not spread person to person.

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The health district strongly stresses the need for individual protective actions to avoid mosquito bites:

* Apply an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) according to manufacturer’s directions. Repellents containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus also have some efficacy. However, DEET is the best-studied and most-effective repellant available.

* Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, when outdoors.

* Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, notably at dusk (the first two hours after sunset) and dawn.

* Eliminate areas of standing water, including bird baths, “green” swimming pools and sprinkler runoff, which support mosquito breeding.

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