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Front Page » July 19, 2007 » Local News » Health department confirms first human West Nile virus case
Published 2,589 days ago

Health department confirms first human West Nile virus case


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By C.J. MCMANUS
Sun Advocate reporter


Epidemiologist Brady Bradford calls up preventative information concerning West Nile Virus, Bradford cautions all Carbon County residents to wear long sleeved, dark colored clothing and DEET when outdoors.

Officials at the Southeastern Utah Health District have confirmed one human case of West Nile virus.

The virus has also been detected in a mosquito population in Salt Lake County.

"The difficult thing is that once West Nile comes into a community, it never really leaves," said health department epidemiologist Brady Bradford.

Local public health district director David Cunningham indicated that the process of investigating the confirmed case of West Nile virus is in the early stages. The infected individual is reportedly between 40 to 64 years of age and resides in the Grand County area.

"It's our understanding the individual was being treated for neuro-invasive WNV and is expected to recover," commented Cunningham.

According to the public health department's press release, the risk of serious complications from West Nile virus increases with age. But there is no age at which there is no risk.

During the 2006 season, 158 human cases of West Nile virus were reported to public health agencies.

Fifty-three of the 2006 cases were severe and there were five deaths. The patients ranged in age from 6 to 86 years old.

"It is estimated that nearly 80 percent of individuals who contract WNV contract it and never even know that they had it," explained Bradford.

According to the local epidemiologist, the remaining 20 percent of infected individuals exhibit West Nile fever, which is characterized by severe flu-like symptoms and rash, or the more rare neurological West Nile.

The less severe West Nile infection has an incubation period of between two and 14 days.

The symptoms can last from three days to two weeks.

Febrile illnesses with sudden onset are typically accompanied by:

•Malaise and/or myalgia.

•Nausea and/or vomiting

•Eye pain.

•Headache and/or rash.

Approximately one in 150 infections are characterized by serious neurological disease.

Clinical syndromes that may arise from a serious infection of West Nile virus include:

•Encephalitis and/or meningitis.

•Acute flaccid paralysis and possible seizures.

According to the local health department, Carbon County residents are still being tested for West Nile virus and coming up positive.

However, Bradford pointed out that a positive test result does not necessarily mean that the individual is currently infected with the disease.

In addition, the epidemiologist reported that one possible incident of West Nile virus in the local area was immediately confronted by Carbon County mosquito abatement crews the next day.

"What is important to remember is that there have been cases of WNV in Carbon County and residents should take precaution in all situations to insure their safety," cautioned Bradford.

The local epidemiologist recommended that residents stay hydrated to keep immune systems healthy, wear long -sleeved dark clothing and protect exposed skin with mosquito repellent that contains DEET.

DEET, N, N diethyl-m-toluamide, is a broad spectrum insect repellent developed by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1946.

According to www.deet.com, applying the repellent to the skin offers hours of protection. More than 50 years of scientific research have demonstrated that, when label directions are followed, DEET can be used by people of all ages without posing reasonable risks to individuals or the environment.

The Southeastern Utah Health District indicated that the time period from dusk until dawn is the most dangerous in relation to mosquito bites.

During the designated time period, local residents should exercise caution to avoid mosquito bites.

It is also important that residents protect families by draining all standing water that may have collected in tires, flowerpots, rain barrels, clogged rain gutters, toys and puddles on properties.

"We don't want to cause a county-wide panic because, in reality, Carbon residents are relatively safe. However, it is very important to take the necessary precautions against any disease that has the harmful potential of WNV," concluded Bradford.



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