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West Nile is back

Aug 8, 2013 - By Steven R. Peck

Don't raise your or your family's risk this summer by ignoring the danger

There is a mosquito out there with your name on it.

That is the only safe way to think about West Nile virus.

Fremont County Weed and Pest control supervisor Lars Baker says West Nile has been detected in mosquitoes in all parts of the county. One case of infection in Fremont County has been reported officially by the Wyoming Department of Health this summer.

It is believed that for every case of the virus that is confirmed through medical diagnosis, there are many more cases that are not.

Modern-day Americans have notoriously short memories, but we would do well not to forget about the serious and damaging West Nile virus problem our county suffered fewer than 10 years ago. There were many infections, with many serious illnesses and long-term effects that sufferers still are dealing with today.

And there were deaths.

Baker and other experts have speculated that the incidence of West Nile has declined since the turn of the century because, eventually, most people were exposed to the virus. It had few new targets to hit. But that can change over time as populations grow, mix and remix.

It is known that most people who contract the virus will never even know it, but for those who do, it is at best a nagging and uncomfortable illness. At worst, it is a crippling, punishing, sometimes debilitating, and occasionally fatal illness.

With human infection confirmed in our county, with mosquito trap after mosquito trap revealing virus-carrying bugs from one end of the county to another, and with the typical West Nile season just beginning now and ready to continue into the fall, there can only be one conclusion among sensible people.

Don't take chances with West Nile virus.

Heed the warnings. Wear long-sleeved and long-legged clothing outdoors, particularly in the morning and evening. Use mosquito repellent. Don't be afraid to put it on your face, your neck, even in your hair, especially if you are going to be outdoors during peak mosquito hours or in places not covered by municipal fogging.

So much more is known today about mosquito risks and West Nile than was known 20 years ago. West Nile virus was just arriving in our part of the country then. But it is here now, and likely here to stay.

We have had a couple of pretty good years in avoiding West Nile, and we all can be hopeful that this will be another.

But signs suggesting the opposite are conspicuous this summer.

Please, don't sit idle. Don't raise your or your family's risk of being infected with West Nile virus. There are too many good alternatives to getting bitten and getting sick. Use them.

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MAIL SUBSCRIBERS: Wednesday's edition of The Ranger was delivered to the Riverton post office at 3:15 p.m., in time to meet the postal deadline for next-day mail delivery.

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