First West Nile Virus case found in Jefferson Co. - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

First West Nile Virus case found in Jefferson Co.

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JEFFERSON COUNTY - AL -

Jefferson County now has the first human case of West Nile Virus.  The Jefferson County Department of Health's Disease Control Division made the announcement that a 65 year old woman in the Bessemer area contracted the disease.  West Nile Virus is a viral infection caused by the bite of an infected mosquito. This most commonly occurs in the late summer or early fall since mosquitoes are most active during this time of the year.

Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with WNV will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Less than 1 percent will develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.
JCHD says when a person is infected, early recognition and prompt supportive treatment for these illnesses can substantially lower the risk of developing severe disease. About 10 percent of people who develop neurological infection due to WNV will die.  People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness. 
Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), WNV and other mosquito-borne viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes after they feed on birds. The same mosquitoes can then infect mammals, particularly humans and horses. Humans and horses can sometimes become seriously ill from the infection. 

Vaccination exists and is effective for horses, but there is no commercially available vaccine for humans. In 2012, there have been 4 cases of EEE in horses located in Dallas County. No medications are available to treat or vaccines available to prevent WNV infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and nursing care. Anyone who has symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider.

Repellents are an important tool to assist people in protecting themselves from mosquito-borne diseases. CDC recommends the use of repellents containing active ingredients which have been registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use as repellents applied to skin and clothing. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection. These include the following: 
·       DEET 
·       Picaridin 
·       Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus or PMD, the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus 
·       IR3535 

"Precautionary measures continue to be the best defense against the virus," says Jonathan Stanton, Environmental Health Director.  "Residents should look around the outside of their homes and remove any debris that can collect water.  They need to make sure that flower pots, birdbaths and other items that hold water are emptied regularly and that gutters are kept free of debris.  By taking these actions, they can effectively reduce areas around their homes where mosquitoes can breed."