Local public health district addresses West Nile virus
Many Carbon County residents are becoming concerned about contracting the West Nile virus.
Due to the mounting concerns, Southeastern Utah Health District recently responded with the following information regarding the virus.
To date in 2002, the West Nile virus has been detected as far west as Wyoming and Colorado.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that, from 1999 through 2001, there were 149 cases of the West Nile virus human illness in the country.
The cases confirmed by the federal health agency resulted in 18 deaths.
From January to Aug. 21, 2002, there have been 269 human cases confirmed. Eight deaths have been reported in Louisiana, one death in Illinois, one death in Kentucky, one death in Texas and two deaths in Mississippi.
The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, according to local health officials. It can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals.
The virus is not, however, transmitted from person to person.
In addition, there is no evidence to indicate that an individual can get the virus from handling live or dead infected birds or horses.
The majority of the individuals who become infected with the West Nile virus will actually have no symptoms.
Some infected patients will, however develop mild symptoms that include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands.
Less than 1 percent of the infected individuals will suffer from a severe and sometimes fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis - an inflammation of the brain.
Carbon County residents can effectively reduce the chances of becoming ill from the virus and other mosquito transmitted diseases by exercising caution, indicated the health district. The risks can decreased by people protecting themselves from mosquito bites.
The local public health department recommends limiting the places available for mosquitoes to lay eggs, eliminating standing water sources from around the home and applying insect repellent when venturing outdoors.
Wearing long sleeves and long pants treated with repellant will further reduce the risk of becoming infected along with staying indoors during peak mosquito feeding hours - from dusk until dawn.
The U.S. States Department of Agriculture has confirmed through the National Veterinary Services Laboratories that, from Jan. 1 to Aug. 19, 2002, there were 644 cases of West Nile virus reported in horses in 23 states.
There is a vaccine available for horses which helps to protect the animals from contacting the disease. The vaccine requires administering two shots three to six weeks apart.
For more information about the vaccine, Carbon County residents with horses should contact a local veterinarian.
As public concern continues to spread across the nation about West Nile virus, Carbon County residents may receive additional information by contacting Terrie Wright at the health department office in Price at 637-3671.