COEUR d’ALENE, Idaho (KLIX) – This year’s first human case of West Nile virus in the state has been reported in northern Idaho.  

The 50-year-old Kootenai County resident is recovering from West Nile neuroinvasive disease, according to the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

Twelve counties in Idaho have reported WNV activity in mosquitoes since the end of May, including Gooding County.

“West Nile activity has ramped up significantly during the last few weeks, so people are strongly encouraged to fight the bite of mosquitoes to protect themselves and their families,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, state public health veterinarian, said in a prepared statement.

“This is a good warning for all of us to take protective measures, including wearing insect repellent and reducing mosquito habitat, such as standing water, around our gardens and homes.”

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According to the IDHW:

Last year, nine human cases of West Nile infection were reported from 15 counties, with no deaths. However, it is difficult to predict the impact WNV will have from year-to-year. In 2006, Idaho led the nation for WNV illnesses with almost 1,000 infections that contributed to 23 deaths.

WNV is usually contracted from the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus does not usually affect domestic animals, but it can cause serious illness in horses and certain birds. Human infected with the virus may experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash.

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Officials from South Central Public Health District and Twin Falls County Pest Abatement District said on July 27 that West Nile was detected in mosquitoes trapped in the Hagerman area. No human or animal cases have been reported in the Magic Valley, but officials are asking residents to be vigilant to “fight the bite.” That means removing standing water from your property and, among others suggestions, dressing appropriately when outdoors.

“If you have any water standing long enough,” Kirk Tubbs, abatement district manager, recently told News Radio 1310, “mosquitoes will find it – a forgotten swimming pool, water left in a bucket or water trough.” In any of these, “hundreds of mosquito larvae could be found.”

Tubbs said not all types of mosquito are prone to carry the West Nile virus, but those that do “really do thrive around people. … We’ve had such hot weather and just enough rain to create the habitat.”

The IDHW advises people to avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. In addition, you should:

  • 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 your property; check and drain toys, trays or pots outdoors that may hold water.
  • Change bird baths, static decorative ponds, and animal water tanks weekly because they may provide a suitable mosquito habitat.

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