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West Nile remains a threat

Jun 4, 2013 - From staff reports

The Wyoming Department of Health says West Nile virus spread by mosquitoes remains a potential threat in Wyoming as warmer weather arrives across the state.

"West Nile virus can sometimes cause serious illness," said Emily Thorp, surveillance epidemiologist with the Wyoming Department of Health. "Because mosquitoes spread the virus by feeding on infected birds and then biting people, other birds and animals, preventing mosquito breeding and avoiding bites are important."

Last year was an active season in several states. Texas was particularly hard hit with 844 reported human cases and 89 deaths. In Wyoming last year, seven human cases were reported.

Thorp recommended the five D's of prevention:

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 or oil of lemon eucalyptus can also be effective.

Thorp noted West Nile virus activity in any given year is tough to predict. The state has seen human cases reported as early as May and as late as October with late summer and early fall as the typical peak times.

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