West Nile Virus in Wyoming... Again

by Michael Sevren, msevren@k2tv.com

With these persistent hot temperatures mosquitoes are out in full force in many areas across the state. Some of those mosquitoes are the culex tarsalis, a species that is known to carry the deadly West Nile Virus. So far only two Wyomingites have been sickened by the virus, but the risk is  far from over.

Just one week ago, the Wyoming Department of Health confirmed the first case of West Nile Virus in human in Platte county, and now a second case has been confirmed in Lander.

Emily Thorp, a surveillance epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health told K2 news that the second victim is an adult female who contracted West Nile fever. "There's two different categories of West Nile virus infection in humans... there is West Nile fever and West Nile neurological disease and that is actually the more severe form." 

But with confirmed West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes all over the county including Riverton and the reservation, all of Fremont county is in danger.

Nancy Pieropan with Fremont county weed and pest has been catching mosquitoes that have been tested positive for WNV. "We found it in Riverton, Hudson, Lander, and the reservation."  

Aside from trapping mosquitoes, Fremont county weed and pest has been spraying pesticides and larvicides for weeks, but officials can only do so much.

"Fremont county is to big to have an effective program." say's Nancy who has been with Fremont county weed and pest for over twenty years. "The communities, the Municipalities.... they do there best to control the mosquitoes. Even with a great control program your still gonna have mosquitoes flying around, you can't kill everyone!"   

And while 80% of people who get WNV don't show any symptoms. you can contract meningitis,  a neurological diseases, and in some cases the virus can kill you.

"If you get the meningitis neurological diseases it can be life changing." Say's Pieropan. "It's not anything to just say ahh it's flue like symptoms like everything else....It can be a life changer and it can be life ender."

So how do you protect yourself? by fallowing the 5 D's is a sure fire prevention method that will help you stay safe.

The “5 D’s” of prevention include:
1) Dawn and 2) Dusk – most mosquito species prefer to feed at dawn or dusk, so avoid spending time outside during these times.
3) Dress – wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt outdoors or when mosquitoes are most active. clothing should be light-colored and made of tightly woven materials.
4) Drain – mosquitoes breed in shallow, stagnant water. reduce the amount of standing water by draining and/or removing it.
5) Deet – use an insect repellent containing deet. when using deet, be sure to read and follow the label instructions. other insect repellents such as picaridin (kbr 3023) or oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be effective.

last year Wyoming had seven human West Nile cases reported but with the large amount of virus carrying mosquitoes appearing, health officials are expecting a lot more. If you think you may have contracted West Nile Virus contact a medical professional as soon as possible.