According to health officials, this case of WNV is non-neuroinvasive – meaning it is a milder form of the disease – and the person is now recovering. Because the Washoe County resident had been traveling in Nevada, California and Idaho during the exposure period, health officials are uncertain exactly where the infection was contracted. Health officials in the areas visited by the infected person have been notified.
West Nile 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 through casual contact, Washoe health officials said in a press release. Many people with non-neuroinvasive WNV will have no symptoms or very mild clinical symptoms of illness. Mild symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest stomach, and back. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness and even death.
Because WNV is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites the following precautions should be taken to reduce chances of contracting the virus:
• Clear areas around your home of any free-standing water that can become a mosquito breeding ground.
• Wear long sleeves and long pants in mosquito-prone areas.
• Use mosquito repellent and follow label precautions.
• Repair any window screens that provide entry for mosquitoes.
• Vaccinate horses for WNV.
The first human cases of West Nile Virus in the United States were documented in 1999. In Washoe County, WNV-related illnesses were first seen in 2003. The largest number of cases ever reported in Washoe County was 17 in 2006.
The Washoe County Health District’s Communicable Disease Program investigates all reported cases of diseases such as WNV and presents those cases in the Communicable Disease Weekly Report. Residents are asked to report nighttime mosquito activity to the District Health Department at 328-2434.
More information on WNV and the Washoe County Health District’s vector-borne disease prevention program can be found at www.washoecounty.us/health/ehs/vbdp.html.