Man is infected by West Nile virus in Southern Nevada

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ST. GEORGE — Nevada’s first 2017 human case of West Nile virus has been contracted by a man in Southern Nevada, public health officials reported Thursday.

The unidentified man, who is in his 50s, has the “more serious neuroinvasive form” of the illness, according to a statement issued by the Southern Nevada Health District.

There have been no human cases of West Nile virus reported in 2017 in the five counties covered by the Southwest Utah Public Health Department, spokesman David Heaton said.

West Nile virus is spread through the bites of infected mosquitoes that have acquired the virus by feeding on infected birds, according to the health district. The illness is not spread person to person.

Many people with the virus will have no symptoms or very mild clinical symptoms of illness, health officials said. 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 neurologic illness and even death.

“Mosquito bites and the diseases spread by infected mosquitoes are preventable,” Dr. Joe Iser, chief health officer for the health district, said in a statement.

Simple steps can be taken to eliminate mosquito breeding sources around homes to help protect people and prevent mosquito bites.

Ways to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus

  • Avoid outdoor activities, such as gardening, at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • If outside during the periods when mosquitoes are most active, cover up by wearing long-sleeved shirts, pants, shoes and socks.
  • Use mosquito repellents with DEET. Follow product directions for children and how often it should be applied.
  • Eliminate standing water in tires or similar water-holding containers as these may serve as mosquito breeding sites. Change the water in birdbaths at least weekly.

In 2016, there were two reported West Nile cases along with three cases of St. Louis Encephalitis, a similar mosquito-borne illness, according to the health district.

Mosquito pools for West Nile, St. Louis Encephalitis and Western Equine Encephalitis are regularly tested by the Southern Nevada Health District’s Vector Surveillance Program.

To date, 444 mosquito traps have been set and 10,074 mosquitoes submitted to the Nevada Department of Agriculture Animal Disease Laboratory for analysis. All mosquitoes submitted have been negative for disease.

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