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Most Hill County mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus

 

August 17, 2018

From Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

West Nile Virus Activity by State – United States, 2018 as of Aug. 7. *WNV human disease cases or presumptive viremic blood donors have screened possitive for West Nile but its presence has not necessarily been confirmed. †WNV veterinary disease cases, or infections in mosquitoes, birds, or sentinel animals.

Most of the mosquitoes in Hill County have West Nile virus, Kim Larson of Hill County Health Department said during a meeting of county officials Thursday.

All but two pools of mosquitoes tested in the district came back positive for West Nile, she added.

From the start of the mosquito season, the health department has advocated people take preventative measures.

The "Four Ds of Prevention," she said, are:

• Dress (in dark clothing with long sleeves and pants)

• DEET (mosquito repellent)

• Dusk and dawn (are peak biting hours. Stay indoors or protect yourself)

• Drain (any standing water on property, where mosquitoes breed)

No vaccines or medications exist to treat people with the mosquito-borne illness, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

"Fortunately," the CDC web page adds, "most people infected with WNV do not have symptoms. About 1 in 5 people infected develop a fever and other symptoms (headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash).

"About 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness. ... About 1 out of 10 of people who develop severe illness affecting the central nervous system die," the page says.

Serious illness from West Nile virus can occur at any age, but people 60 years of age and older are at greater risk, the page adds, as well as those with certain medical conditions.

"Symptoms of severe illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis," the CDC page adds.

Prevention

A Hill County Health Department Facebook post about the Four Ds of Prevention received a comment questioning the department's recommendation of DEET.

"Do you know the dangers of deet? (sic) Do you know what this does to your children? Please be smart and choose something more natural and effective," Rayminda Linton said in her comment.

The response on the Health Department Facebook peg provide a link to the Environmental Protection Agency's web page about the insect repellant: https://www.epa.gov/insect-repellents/deet/.

"Above is safety research information on deet (sic)," the reply says. "There are also natural repellent options and the decision is up to you."

Several studies of people sporadically exposed to DEET have shown most people are unaffected, but some people experience negative effects, the Scientific American column EarthTalk says.

CDC approved two healthier mosquito repellants in 2005, EarthTalk reports. The first ingredient, picaridin, is available in the U.S. from the Cutter Advanced brand, the column says.

The only plant-based active ingredient approved by the CDC for repelling insects is oil of lemon eucalyptus, EarthTalk says. Several brands use the ingredient, including OFF! Botanicals, Repel Lemon Eucalyptus and Fight Bite Plant-Based Insect Repellent, the column adds.

 

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