West Nile virus cases, positive samples detected across the country

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Health officials around the country are reporting cases and positive samples of the West Nile virus. 

In Iowa, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Friday that the first case of West Nile virus infection was reported this year in an older adult — age 61-80 years — from Plymouth County.

The case was confirmed through a test at the State Hygienic Lab.

“Warm summer weather means Iowans are spending more time outside, which increases the risk of mosquito bites. Bites from infected mosquitos are the primary method in which humans are infected with the virus,” the department said. 

In the first week of June, Nebraska’s Department of Health and Human Services said its first human case had been found in the Three Rivers Public Health District and that the individual had not been hospitalized.

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed there were 13 cases this year across the U.S. as of June 13. Those cases were reported in Oregon, Arizona, Wyoming, Nebraska, Illinois, Louisiana, Georgia, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Of those, four were reported in the Copper State.

The agency showed more than 1,125 human disease cases in 2022. 

The Harris County Public Health Mosquito Vector Control Division confirmed that a mosquito sample had tested positive for the virus in the Texas county. 

The positive sample was collected from a mosquito trapping site in the southwest 77005 ZIP code. 

In response, the division would activate evening spray operations where the sample was found and in surrounding areas beginning Friday night.

“Our comprehensive mosquito surveillance program is key to identifying the presence of the virus in our community and guides our control efforts to help us better protect our residents. West Nile virus has been in our area since 2002,” Division Director Dr. Maximea Vigilant said in a release. “During the summer months, we remind our residents to enjoy the outdoors but remember to protect themselves and their families from diseases transmitted by mosquitoes.” 

Researcher collects mosquitos for testing.
Mosquitos are being tested in high-risk areas to determine the level of risk for contracting the virus.
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The Southern Nevada Health District said in a Thursday release that it had identified the first virus-positive mosquitoes of the season in the Clark County 89074 ZIP code.

The analysis was conducted by the Southern Nevada Public Health Laboratory, and health district staff have tested more than 7,000 mosquitoes this year.

No human cases had been reported in the county thus far, and there was minimal activity there during the course of the last three years. In 2019, the virus reached unprecedented activity, including one death.

“The positive mosquito results illustrate that West Nile virus is active in southern Nevada and that residents need to be vigilant about eliminating mosquito breeding sources while also protecting themselves from mosquito bites,” District Health Officer Dr. Fermin Leguen said in a statement.

Cases of West Nile virus occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. 

Researchers test mosquitos in a lab.
More than 7,000 mosquitos have been tested by the South Nevada Public Health Laboratory and health district staff this year.
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There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat the virus — a member of the flavivirus genus — in people, but the CDC notes that most people infected with it do not feel sick. 

Around one in five of those who are infected develop a fever and other symptoms, and about 1 out of 150 infected people develop a serious and sometimes fatal illness. 

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