Two human cases of West Nile Virus were confirmed in Clark County on Wednesday morning.
Director of Environmental Health for the Clark County Combined Health District, Larry Shaffer said the cases were located in the western and southeastern parts of Springfield.
“In the last five years, we’ve only had one so you can see where we’d be concerned,” he said.
Shaffer said the health district has been trying to spread awareness of the disease by going door-to-door in the affected neighborhoods and passing out information. As of Sept. 10, there were 18 cases of West Nile in humans statewide.
Eight in 10 people won’t develop symptoms from West Nile, but those who show signs will do so between three and 14 days after they’re bitten, according to the health district. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting or a possible skin rash.
In severe circumstances, West Nile can lead to brain swelling, a coma or even death.
Treatment for West Nile virus is based on symptoms, according to the health district.
There are several tips to follow to avoid the disease — one of the most important is eliminating standing water around your home where mosquitoes can breed. That means bird baths, pet water bowls or even gutters and downspouts.
“They get clogged and they hold water and you can’t see in them — naturally because they’re higher than most people can see,” Shaffer said. “We encourage people to go out as soon as they can. Dumping water out every seven days will reduce the risk of larvae becoming adult mosquitoes.”
Another quick way to repel the pests is by covering up with long sleeves and pants or wearing bug spray. Shaffer said DEET is the active ingredient to look for when buying repellent.
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Susan Farries lives in one of the affected areas and said even though her bird baths are far from her house, there’s still plenty of mosquitoes around.
She said she tries to take proper precautions like emptying her outside cats’ water dish and wearing bug spray whenever she goes outside. She encourages others to do the same.
“I know (bug spray) is a little bit on the pricey side, but it’s worth it. Your life is worth it,” she said.
The health district said it will be applying a special product at night to control the adult mosquito population. The product is safe for humans and pets, but residents who have a concern about treatment can contact the health district and ask that application by their property be limited.
The district said it has been in contact with local doctors in order to diagnose West Nile quickly, and it will continue to monitor for the virus in other parts of the county.
Facts & Figures
2 — number of confirmed human cases of West Nile in the 2018 season
80 — percent of people infected with West Nile who won’t show any symptoms
1 in 150 — number of people who will develop serious symptoms including brain swelling
How to protect yourself from mosquitoes
Use mosquito repellent when outdoors
Use EPA-registered mosquito repellents and closely follow the directions. Repellents containing DEET will provide the most protection. Also cover up. Wear long pants and sleeves to reduce chance of being bitten.
Eliminate standing water around your home
Mosquitoes love to lay their eggs in stagnant water. Check for things in and around your home that tend to collect rainwater such as: old tires, buckets, toys, containers, clogged rain gutters. In addition to this, things like bird baths, rain barrels, decorative ponds, or swimming pools should either maintain circulation or be cleaned out regularly.
Make your home a “mosquito-free zone”
Keep windows and doors closed, or at least screened to keep mosquitoes out. Check screens regularly for holes or openings where mosquitoes may be able to get through.
Be cautious if using insecticides
If you’re considering using pesticides, it may be easier and safer to contract a pest control agency for the task. If you choose to do it yourself, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website at www.cdc.gov for more information.
Souce: Clark County Combined Health District