Cases of West Nile virus have been confirmed in two Canyon County residents and one Payette County resident, Southwest District Health announced Tuesday, urging area residents to take precautions.
These are the first positive human cases of West Nile in Canyon and Payette counties for 2016, according to a health district news release. The first case in Idaho this season was reported in Elmore County.
The cases from Canyon County were a teenage girl who was hospitalized with West Nile meningitis and is now recovering at home and a woman in her 50s who contracted West Nile fever but was not hospitalized, officials said. A Payette County boy also was confirmed with West Nile fever but was not hospitalized, officials said.
West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that is usually spread to animals and humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Although most infections do not cause symptoms, one out of five who become infected show symptoms such as fever, headaches, body aches, nausea and vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph nodes or a skin rash. These symptoms can last for a few days or several weeks. Symptoms typically occur from 2 to 14 days after the bite from an infected mosquito.
“Less than 1 percent, or 1 in 150 people infected with WNV develop severe, neurologic illness, such as meningitis (inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord) or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which may be life threatening,” said Randi Pedersen, epidemiologist for Southwest District Health. “These more severe infections are marked by a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.”
West Nile cases typically peak in mid-August or early September, , so additional precautions should be taken, officials said. Mosquitoes can bite anytime, but those carrying West Nile are generally more active between dusk and dawn.
The more you're outdoors, the higher risk you could be bitten by an infected mosquito, Pedersen said, recommending avoiding outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, wearing long sleeves and pants during those hours, keeping mosquitoes out of your home by using good screens on your windows and doors, and using insect repellent containing an EPA-registered activve ingredient such as DEET or Picaridin.
People are also advised to get rid of mosquito breeding sites by draining standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels, pool covers and wading pools. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths and watering troughs at least twice weekly. Drill holes in tire swings or old tires so water drains out.
Get more information on West Nile from Southwest District Health online.