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West Nile: DN official offers tips

Virus uncommon here, but care is still advised

A dramatic uptick in documented cases of West Nile Virus has many Texans donning long sleeves and pants during the dog days of summer.

And while Del Norters remain comparatively cool and unaffected by the mosquito-born disease found mostly in hot humid places, local health officials are advising common sense prevention methods like covering up and wearing insect repellent. 

This year, 1,590 reported human cases have
resulted in 66 deaths in the U.S., nearly half of which were in Texas. This week two human cases were confirmed in Oregon — one in Coos County. 

Outbreaks in the Pacific Northwest tend to be scattered, with single-digit frequency, while serious symptoms resulting from infection are even rarer, according to Del Norte County Public Health Officer Thomas Martinelli, who spoke with the Triplicate by phone from his home in Santa Barbara on Wednesday.

In the past seven years, one Del Norte horse was reportedly infected with the virus, he said. 

In humans the typical symptoms are fever, headache and body aches — much like a common cold, and most victims get better on their own in a few days without ever realizing they’ve been infected with a virus that in very rare instances leads to neurological symptoms, coma, paralysis and/or death.

As of Tuesday, at least 34 of 58 California counties had West Nile virus activity, the state reports. Sixteen counties have had 44 human cases, including one each in Butte and Glenn counties and three in Sacramento County.

Martinelli recommended taking preventative measures to make sure Del Norters stay West Nile-free, such as: draining any standing water whenever possible, using insect repellent and avoiding exposing skin during dawn and dusk, when the bloodsuckers are most active. 

West Nile activity tends to peak in mid- to late-August, affecting birds and mammals bitten by mosquitos, but likely will continue through October. Because symptoms can take two weeks to appear, the reporting of cases lags behind when people became infected.

Nationwide, West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week and may rival the record years of 2002 and 2003, federal health officials said Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Emily Jo Cureton at This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

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