County reports first West Nile Virus case of year

The county health department on Thursday reported its first case of West Nile Virus of the year and reminded residents that despite the recent mild weather, there are still several weeks of mosquito season remaining.

A 12-year-old Wellston boy experiencing West Nile Virus symptoms was hospitalized briefly and released, the health department stated in a news release. The case is the first in the county this year. One case was reported in 2010.

“Even though serious West Nile Virus cases in humans are rare, it is important to minimize our exposure,” said Health Department Director Dolores J. Gunn stated in the release. “We can do this by eliminating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and multiply and protect ourselves by using repellents.”

The health department offered several steps residents can take to reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes to flourish:

• At least once a week, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes and other objects that collect water. Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.

• Keep gutters cleaned out and repair any tears in door and window screens.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and light colors outdoors.

• Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or picaridin, making sure to follow the directions on the label.

• Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.

• Flexible drainage pipe is commonly used to drain water from downspouts. A big drawback is that it holds water and breeds mosquitoes if not properly sloped when installed.

The health department stated it routinely collects mosquito samples to test and help determine where to focus control efforts. Vector Control monitors and treats standing water in public areas as part of its preventative larviciding program. To find out where the county will be spraying, call 615-4-BUG — 615-4284 — for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule.

For more information on mosquito prevention, contact the County Vector Control office at (314) 727-3097, or visit the Health Department’s website: