FRANKFORT, Ky. (August 5, 2004) - Test results have confirmed Kentucky’s first case of West Nile fever in 2004 in a Russell County resident. The patient is recovering at home.
The state’s first positive mosquito pool has also been detected in Fayette County. So far this season, seven birds in six counties and two horses have tested positive for West Nile virus. West Nile virus is spread to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.
During the 2003 West Nile season in Kentucky 14 human cases were reported, including one death, as well as 102 positive horses, 111 positive birds and 10 positive mosquito pools. In 2002, Kentucky reported 75 human cases, including five deaths, as well as 693 positive birds, 513 positive horses and 55 positive mosquito pools.
"Kentuckians should take precautions to prevent mosquito bites and reduce standing water around their homes in order to prevent further West Nile cases," said Dr. William Hacker, Acting Commissioner of the Department for Public Health.
Although the risk of people becoming seriously ill from West Nile virus infection is small, the Department for Public Health offers the following tips for reducing the risk of contact with the virus.
Stay indoors at dawn, dusk and in the early evening when mosquitoes are most active.
Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when you are outdoors.
Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 30 percent DEET for adults and around 10 percent DEET for children over 2 months of age. (DEET should not be applied to children less than 2 months of age.)
Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s Directions for Use printed on the product. NOTE: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
Additionally, people can take the following steps to reduce mosquitoes around their home and neighborhoods by reducing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding:
Remove all discarded tires on your property. Used tires are one of the primary breeding areas for mosquitoes.
Dispose of tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots, or similar water-holding containers.
Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers left outdoors.
Make sure roof gutters drain properly, and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall. Roof gutters can produce millions of mosquitoes each season.
Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
Change water in birdbaths.
Clean vegetation and debris from edges of ponds.
Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs. Aerate or add fish to ornamental ponds. Remember to drain water from pool covers and tarps.
Use landscaping to eliminate standing water that collects on your property.
Mosquitoes may breed in any puddle that lasts for more than four days.
Most people who are exposed to the virus will not show symptoms. Even people living in at-risk areas are unlikely to get sick from exposure to the virus. However, mild symptoms may include slight fever and/or headache, possibly with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. A rapid onset of high fever with head and body aches, neck stiffness, disorientation, stupor and muscle weakness marks more severe infections of encephalitis. Older people may be at greater risk of serious illness if infected.
The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Division of Animal Health is responsible for directing and coordinating investigations to determine if a horse or other animal has become infected with WNV. When a horse shows signs of neurological disorder or an encephalitic disease is suspected, a veterinarian should be consulted. The local veterinarian then should notify the State Veterinarian’s Office at (502) 564-3956.
Kentuckians can learn more about West Nile Virus at a Web site -- http://www.westnile.ky.gov/ - for the Strategic Mosquito Attack Campaign, or SMAC, an interagency effort involved in preventing the spread of the disease and protecting people from mosquitoes. The page includes a link to the DPH state map, which is updated regularly to show West Nile activity in the state.