West Nile virus strikes Yates Co.

Staff Writer
The Chronicle Express

The Yates County Public Health Department has received NYSDOH notification there is a positive case of West Nile Virus in a horse within Yates County.

In a statement released Aug. 22, Director Deborah Minor said, "It is important to know that the department has not received any report of other cases of West Nile virus in people or animals at this time, but with a warm and wet summer, mosquito activity is prevalent."

"With this in mind, we need to consider what we can do to prevent mosquitoes from being active so close to our home environments. Be aware that along with those itchy mosquito bites may come the potential for infectious diseases like West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis," advises Public Health spokesperson Kathy Swarthout.

To help prevent mosquito-borne illnesses:

• Mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn or when the air is calm, although they can feed any time of the day. They can bite humans, pets, farm animals, or wildlife for their blood meal. People and horses seem to be the ones most affected by the mosquito-borne infections. Ask your veterinarian about vaccine for West Nile virus and EEE if you have a horse.

• If you can, avoid going into areas of mosquito activity during active times. If you need to be outside where mosquitoes are prevalent, consider using insect repellent. Always read the repellent label instructions carefully. Repellent chemicals can cause severe side effects if used improperly. If going outside without repellents, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, socks and shoes, and a hat that protects the head and neck.

• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Empty water from bird baths, wheel barrows, pool covers, plugged gutters, or any other sources of standing water. Get rid of old tires that collect water or drill holes in the bottom side to facilitate draining. Remove debris in the yard and keep the lawn and fields around your home trimmed. Clean and keep pools and hot tubs chlorinated. Drain water from areas around your property where water is standing and stagnant. Repair holes in screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering your home, and remind family to close windows and doors.

• If you do have symptoms like headache, body ache, and fever, and perhaps a skin rash and swollen glands, contact your health care provider.

Most people infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms of illness. Only about 20 percent of people infected will have these mild symptoms. However, more severe infections can include symptoms like headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, confusion, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, and coma. A small percentage of people who are infected with West Nile virus experience this more severe form of the disease and may need hospitalization. Those at highest risk for severe disease are people over the age of 50. Usually symptoms appear within 3-14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Since WNV is caused by a virus, medications will not cure the infection; the only treatment being supportive care.

Yates County Public Health will continue to alert and update county residents of special instructions regarding potential West Nile virus infections. If you have questions or concerns call 315-536-5160 (toll free – 1-866-212-5160) or visit www.yatescounty.org.