West Nile Detected in Morrow County

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West Nile virus, a mild flu-like disease spread by mosquitoes, has been detected in mosquitoes at a testing site in Morrow County, according to Oregon Public Health officials

Health officials are advising people in Morrow County to take precautions against mosquitoes to avoid the risk of infection, including preventing mosquito bites. West Nile is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito.

Mosquitoes with West Nile virus were also found in Umatilla County last week.

About one in five infected people may show signs of West Nile virus. People at risk of serious illness include individuals 50 and older, and people with immune-compromising conditions, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

West Nile symptoms may include fever above 100 degrees and severe headache, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, shaking, paralysis or rash. People should contact their health care provider if experiencing any of these symptoms.

The incubation period is usually two to 14 days. Rarely, infected individuals may develop an infection of the brain or spinal column that can be severe or may cause death. This is especially of concern to those who have a compromised immune system, or the elderly.

“It’s very easy for people to prevent bites from mosquitoes that may carry West Nile virus,” said Dr. Emilio DeBess, veterinarian at the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division. “Although the risk of contracting West Nile virus is low, people can take simple precautions to keep these insects at bay if they’re headed outdoors.”

DeBess offers these tips:

  • Eliminate sources of standing water that are a breeding ground for mosquitoes. This includes watering troughs, bird baths, clogged gutters and old tires.
  • When engaged in outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, protect yourself by using mosquito repellants containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picardin, and follow the directions on the container.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-infested areas.
  • Make sure screen doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly.

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