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Idaho Department of Health and Welfare reports first cases of West Nile virus in humans this year

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Posted at 1:25 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-09 15:26:45-04

The first human cases of West Nile virus has been reported in a southern Idaho county.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare announced the first case of West Nile virus in a human was identified in Owyhee County. Two people, both over the age of 50, were found to have the virus -- one was diagnosed with West Nile fever and the other was diagnosed through blood donor screening, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

While the two individuals are the first reported human cases in Idaho this year, West Nile virus has been found in tested mosquitoes in six different southwest Idaho counties so far.

In 2019, 13 total human West Nile virus cases were reported state-wide and virus activity was found in 12 different counties in mosquitoes, horses and people. The virus is usually transmitted from a mosquito bite and not spread from person-to-person contact, according to the department. Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, body aches, nausea and occasionally swollen lymphnodes and skin rash. Some infections can be severe, especially for people 50 years and older.

The health department recommends the following to protect yourself from the virus:

  • Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children.
  • Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
  • Reduce standing water on property; check and drain toys, trays or pots outdoors that can hold water.
  • Change bird baths, static decorative ponds, and animal water tanks weekly to reduce suitable mosquito habitats