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West Nile virus case confirmed in Fremont Co.

Aug 7, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

A woman in Fremont County has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

She represents the second case of West Nile reported in the state this year. The other involves an adult female from Platte County.

Emily Thorp, a surveillance epidemiologist at the WDH, said the Fremont County woman was classified as having West Nile virus fever as opposed to a neuroinvasive illness.

A small percentage of people infected with the virus can develop neuroinvasive diseases like meningitis or encephalitis, officials said, with symptoms such as severe headache, fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsion and paralysis.

Most infected people never develop symptoms, however, and those who do become ill usually experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph nodes. Terry Wilson, emergency response coordinator for Fremont County Public Health, said anyone experiencing those symptoms should be tested for West Nile virus.

The Wyoming Public Health Laboratory offers free testing for health care providers with suspected cases in their patients.

"If (people are) just not feeling good, they might want to get in and get checked," Wilson said Wednesday, "especially if they've been exposed to mosquitoes at dawn or dusk."

Culex tarsalis mosquitoes -- the type that can carry the virus and spread it to humans -- are most active between 7 p.m. and 1 a.m., according to Fremont County Weed and Pest officials. The Weed and Pest group has identified bugs with the virus throughout the county this summer, with positive hits in Riverton, Lander, rural Hudson and Arapahoe last month.

"Fremont County has done a really good job of monitoring this and putting out the information," Wilson said. "They are testing on a weekly basis to follow the counts of the Culex mosquito."

She said people should wear long sleeves and pants combined with mosquito repellant at night to avoid being bitten. Wilson also encouraged residents to drain any standing water on their properties that could attract mosquito populations.

"Drain all the water around your facility in spare tires, bird baths -- anywhere stagnant water is going to be sitting," Wilson said.

Past cases

In a press release, Thorp noted that states surrounding Wyoming have recorded a "handful" of West Nile virus cases, but she said the virus' activity nationally is significantly lower this year compared to 2012.

Seven human cases of West Nile virus were reported in Wyoming last year, including two in Fremont County. In 2011 there was one neuroinvasive case in Fremont County, and two people with the fever were confirmed elsewhere in the state.

Fremont County recorded no cases in 2010, when there were four instances of fever and two neuroinvasive cases in Wyoming.

Since the virus first appeared in the state in 2002, the annual numbers of reported human cases have ranged from two with no deaths to 393 with nine deaths.

For more information, visit www.health.wyo.gov/.

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