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Precaution against West Nile virus advised over holiday weekend

August 29, 2012

For immediate release
Contact:  Gerry Ewing / 503-681-1654

Its official, authorities announced this week that the West Nile virus has made its way to Oregon, with two human cases in Coos and Malheur counties. The virus typically peaks over Labor Day weekend so it’s a good reminder to take precaution before heading outdoors.

This year marks one of the worst years for the West Nile Virus, which is a potentially serious illness that attacks the nervous system of animals and humans. As of Aug. 28, a total of 1,590 human cases, including 66 deaths, have been reported in 48 states by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

West Nile is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, so with all the various outdoor activities planned over the weekend, please keep the following tips in mind to avoid infection:

  • Use an approved insect repellant every time you go outside. Approved repellents are those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • Regularly drain standing water — mosquitoes breed in stagnant water.
  • Wear long sleeves and long pants at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Use air conditioning or make sure there are screens on all doors and windows to keep mosquitoes from entering the home.
  • The elderly and those with compromised immune systems are at higher risk to get severe illness and should take extra precaution to avoid mosquito bites.

While it’s estimated that only 20% of people who become infected with the West Nile virus will develop West Nile fever, the most common symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, and on occasion skin rash or swollen lymph glands.

Most illnesses caused by the virus will improve on their own and will not necessarily require medical attention. However, if severe symptoms develop such as an unusually severe headache or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Pregnant and/or nursing women are also encouraged to talk to their health care provider if they develop symptoms that could be West Nile virus.

For more info about the West Nile virus, visit www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/