The number of human cases of West Nile virus has been steadily climbing around the nation and one case was reported in Morrow County earlier this month, but so far, no reports of the virus have been detected in Umatilla County.
The West Umatilla Mosquito Control District is routinely trapping and testing mosquitoes as well as treating areas where mosquitoes are found.
“Mosquito populations are relatively low and will begin to decline even further as we go into September,” said West Umatilla Mosquito Control District Manager Randy Gerard. “We will continue to actively survey mosquito populations for the virus until the mosquitoes are no longer active.”
Sharon Waldern, clinic supervisor of Umatilla County Public Health, encourages people “to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves against mosquito bites.” Both Gerard and Waldern want to encourage people not to become complacent when dealing with mosquitoes. They offered the following suggestions to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile:
• Mosquitoes breed in standing water. Get rid of old tires and other containers where water can accumulate and serve as a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
• Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when in mosquito-infested areas.
• Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, making sure to follow the label directions on the container.
• Be sure screen doors and windows are in good repair.
• Report dead bird sightings to the West Umatilla Mosquito Control District (541) 567-5201 or Umatilla County Public Health Department at 541-278-5432.
Gerard reports, “West Nile is primarily a bird disease, crows, magpies, and jays are especially susceptible,” said Gerard.
Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on an infected bird and can pass the virus to humans, horses, or other hosts when they bite.”
Waldern said most people who become infected do not become ill. Some may develop mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally swollen lymph glands or a rash. In rare cases West Nile may cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. Individuals with severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.
Gerard encourages individuals who live within the West Umatilla Mosquito Control District to call the district office to report mosquito problems and dead bird sightings.
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