BOISE – Health officials are warning the public to take extra precautions to protect themselves from mosquitoes after three new cases of West Nile virus were reported in southwest Idaho.
The latest incidents involve a Washington County man in his 40s, an Owyhee County man over the age of 60, and a woman from Payette County in her 30s who were all recently infected.
There were two previously reported cases of the virus in Payette County, bringing the statewide total of human infections to five.
“The increase in West Nile virus activity is a reminder that people are at risk for the mosquito-borne disease until a killing frost, and is a good warning for people to continue to take precautions,” says Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, deputy state epidemiologist. “It is very important that we all prevent mosquito bites and take protective measures; this includes wearing repellent and reducing mosquito breeding habitat around our homes.”
Additionally, Elmore County is reporting mosquitoes have been detected with West Nile virus, bringing the number of Idaho counties confirmed to have mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus to 11.
West Nile virus is usually contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito; it is not spread from person-to-person through casual contact. Symptoms of infection often include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness, especially in people older than 50. To reduce the likelihood of infection, people are advised to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. In addition, you should:
• Apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children.
• Cover up exposed skin when outdoors.
• Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
• Reduce standing water on your property. Check and drain toys, trays or pots which may hold water. Change the water in bird baths and static decorative ponds weekly as they may provide a suitable mosquito breeding habitat.
Last year, 17 people in Idaho reported West Nile virus infections.