Thursday, May 23, 2024
First West Nile virus case reported in Idaho.

First West Nile virus case reported in Idaho.

Idaho Reports First Human Case of West Nile Virus for the Year


The Idaho Health Department announced on Friday that the state has reported its first human case of West Nile virus infection this year. The infected individual, a man above the age of 50, resides in Washington County, which borders Oregon and has a population of around 11,000 people. The county’s largest town is Weiser. The man was hospitalized but has been discharged to recover at home, according to a news release from the health department.

Transmission and Symptoms

West Nile virus is primarily transmitted to humans through infected mosquitoes. Approximately 1 in 5 infected people experience symptoms such as fever, while around 1 in 150 infected individuals develop more severe illness, which can be fatal. These statistics are provided by the Centers for Disease Control. To minimize the risk of mosquito bites, individuals are advised to wear long-sleeved clothing and use insect repellent.

Public Health Recommendations

Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the state public health veterinarian, strongly encourages Idahoans to protect themselves and their families by taking measures to prevent mosquito bites. These measures include wearing insect repellent, protective clothing, and reducing standing water sources around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs, such as garden areas. By following these recommendations, the spread of West Nile virus can be limited.

Increase in West Nile Virus Cases in Idaho

According to the released statement, seven out of nine Idaho counties that have reported West Nile virus cases this year are located in southwestern Idaho. Canyon County, in particular, has identified 25 mosquito pools with positive tests for the virus in 13 different locations. Jim Lunders, director of Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District, states that small backyard larval sites are the most challenging to control effectively. The public’s assistance in eliminating these sites is crucial to halt the spread of the virus.

Past West Nile Virus Cases in Idaho

Last year, Idaho reported three cases of West Nile virus symptoms. Throughout the state, cases of the virus have been observed in mosquitoes, horses, and humans across seven different counties. The Idaho Health Department’s release mentions that, on average, 11 cases have been reported annually over the past five years.

Prevention Measures and Testing

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare advises the public to be aware of West Nile virus symptoms, including fever, headache, body aches, and nausea. Severe infections are more common in individuals aged 50 and above, potentially leading to hospitalization or death. The department suggests consulting with a healthcare provider for testing if West Nile virus is suspected. To prevent infection, people should avoid mosquitoes, especially during peak activity times at dusk or dawn. It is also recommended to cover exposed skin, apply EPA-approved insect repellent to skin and clothing, repair damaged screens at home to prevent mosquitos from entering, and remove standing water sources on properties.

West Nile Virus Impact on Animals

While dogs and cats are not typically affected by West Nile virus, severe illness can occur in horses and some bird species. Vaccines are available for horses and should be administered annually. However, there is no vaccine currently available for human use against the virus.


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