West Nile virus discovered here

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

The state has revealed that the presence of the West Nile virus has been confirmed in Carroll County.

In its ongoing surveillance of mosquito-borne diseases, the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) reported Thursday the discovery of birds testing positive for West Nile virus in Carroll, Baxter and Saline Counties.

The ADH will no longer be accepting birds for testing in any county where a bird has tested positive this year. Thus far in 2004, mosquito pools have tested positive in Ashley, Crittenden, Greene, Jefferson, Lawrence, Lee, Monroe and several other counties.

Pat Baths, West Nile Virus team leader, said, "We are reporting this information to keep the public aware. However, I want to emphasize that the risk of West Nile Virus to Arkansans is miniscule ---- less than one percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito develop severe illness. With proper precautions, Arkansans should continue their summer activities as usual, but should be mindful that we are entering the peak season of the year for human cases of West Nile Virus infection."

This year human cases of the virus have been reported in Izard, Greene and Union Counties. However, in 2004, no deaths have been attributed to West Nile Virus.

(See health guideline story, Page 5.)

The following protective measures are recommended: Make sure all windows and doors have screens in good repair. Stay indoors when mosquitoes are more active, usually from dusk to dawn. When it is necessary to be outdoors wear protective clothing and use mosquito repellent containing up, to 35% DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta.tolamide).

Use the following precautions when using repellents containing DEET: Store out of the reach of children and read all instructions on the label before applying. Do not allow young children to apply DEET themselves.

Do not apply DEET directly to children. Apply to your own hands and then put it on the child, avoiding the child's face and hands. Do not apply repellents to clothing or to skin that is covered by clothing. Do not apply repellents in enclosed areas. Do not apply directly to your face. Wash all treated skin after returning indoors.

If you believe you or your child are having adverse reactions to a repellent containing DEET, wash the treated area immediately and call your health care provider.

Mosquitoes can breed in any body of water, from small containers such as tires and tin cans, to large bodies of water like lakes or marshes. West Nile virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes to humans, horses and other animals after feeding on diseased birds, which are the host animals. Symptoms of human West Nile Virus infections typically begin within 14 days following the insect bite and consist of fever, muscle and joint aches, listlessness, and in most severe cases, headaches which may indicate encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection; avoiding mosquitoes is the best prevention.

For more information call the ADH Health Information Line at 1-877-296-9555.

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