If there’s a body of water anywhere near you—man-made or natural—that’s growing an emerald coat of slime, it’s time to do something. West Nile Virus season is now through October, and mosquitoes, which pass the virus to humans, use green pools as breeding grounds. The county has drained 450 pools in vacant homes since 2010, but the problem persists. The Southern Nevada Health District found its first batch of infected mosquitoes in August and reported this year’s first case of West Nile in a human on Sept. 14. It expects many more; the Centers for Disease Control warned that the number of cases nationally is on track to break records this year. Health District disease investigator Devin Barrett has the low-down on this incurable illness.
What’s the health district doing to curtail an outbreak?
We set traps for surveillance, and when we find an area that has a problem, depending on geographic features, we use little fish to eat the mosquitoes, or use insecticide, or put a light coating of oil on top of the water to suffocate the larvae.
How does someone know if he has West Nile Virus?
High fever and any sort of altered mental status, like confusion, are the classic signs of the more severe form of the illness. Anyone exhibiting those symptoms should get to a health-care provider ASAP.
There’s no treatment, so prevention is everything, right?
Yes. There’s no medicine or cure for the virus itself, just supportive care. That’s why it’s so important to prevent mosquito bites. Use insect repellent, wear long sleeves for outdoor activities during dusk and dawn, and eliminate any standing water around your property.