WEST UNION, W.Va. — Mosquitoes collected near schools in Doddridge County have tested positive for the West Nile Virus, Doddridge County Health Department Administrator Debbie Davis confirmed Thursday.
As part of this year’s state Mosquito Surveillance Program, the Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology set mosquito traps at the Doddridge County Park, as well as the county’s elementary and middle schools on Aug. 3. When those traps were collected on Aug. 24, Davis said the report showed positive findings of the West Nile Virus.
Additional traps were set in a six-county region of Doddridge, Harrison, Taylor, Marion, Monongalia and Preston, and while other mosquitoes did test positive for the virus, there are no human cases of West Nile.
“It’s really not anything to panic about,” Davis said. “It probably has been around for a long time. It just hasn’t been identified, but it is something to take seriously and for people to take precaution when they’re out in the weather and in the heat.”
Now, the Doddridge County Health Department is working to eliminate any potential threat.
Employees of the department’s sanitation division are treating the mosquito trap site with mosquito dunks, which is a larvicide that kills the mosquito before it becomes old enough to bite and spread the disease, Davis said.
But Davis said individuals can take precaution, too, by using repellants like Deet, wearing long sleeves when outdoors and perhaps most important, eliminate any standing water around the home. She said sites that harbor water, such as flower pots, tarps or clogged gutters, are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
“Get those types of things cleaned up on your property because that’s where the mosquitoes are,” she said.
For those who are bitten by mosquitoes, Davis said roughly 80 percent of those who contract the West Nile virus don’t actually present symptoms.
“It tends to be flu-like symptoms, unless it becomes severe,” she said. “Some people will even be ill and get better and not even realize they’ve had the West Nile Virus.”
Davis said one in 150 will develop a severe, sometimes fatal case, often resulting in encephalitis, meningitis or a dangerously high fever. Anyone exhibiting symptoms of high fever or severe headaches should seek medical treatment.
“People that are older, over the age of 60 are at greater risk or people who might have their immune system suppressed, like cancer patients, people who have diabetes, or those with other underlying disease. They tend to have a higher risk,” she said.
For more information, contact the Doddridge County Health Department at (304) 873-1531 or visit www.cdc.gov/westnile