Idaho News

Elmore County woman contracts West Nile virus

The first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Idaho this year was discovered in an Elmore County woman in her 30s, the Central District Health Department reported Friday.

The woman is recovering at home, health officials said.

Nine Idaho counties, including Ada, Canyon, Gem, Payette, Owyhee and Valley counties, reported West Nile virus in mosquito pool testing this summer.

“We know the disease will remain until cold weather arrives,” said Dr. Sarah Correll, an epidemiologist with the health department. “We hope that this case serves as a reminder to everyone that they need to make every effort to prevent mosquito bites.”

West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness that is usually spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Most people infected with the illness show no symptoms. In more serious cases symptoms can 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, especially in people over the age of 50. West Nile virus is not contagious from person-to-person through casual contact.

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;

Cover up exposed skin when outdoors;

Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens and reduce standing water on your property to eliminate mosquito-breeding habitat.

West Nile virus does not usually affect domestic animals, but can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is no vaccine available for people, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to vaccinate their horses annually.