From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 3, Number 22 - August 28, 2003
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Wyoming's 100: Human West Nile Virus cases

by Cat Urbigkit

State health officials announced Monday that the number of Wyoming citizens identified with exposure to West Nile virus reached 100 today. The ages range from 11- to 87-years old and the median age is 49. To date, the Wyoming Department of Health public health laboratory has tested 395 human samples for the disease.

State Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard announced on Aug. 22 that two deaths were attributable to West Nile virus - an elderly man and an elderly woman from Platte County. These deaths were the first for the state since the disease was discovered here last year.

The number of WNV-infected horses as of last Friday was 142 and the total dead WNV-positive birds was 128. Two of the horse cases are from within Sublette County's borders, although no human or bird cases have yet been detected.

Sublette County Public Health Officer Dr. J. Thomas Johnston cautioned Tuesday that the peak mosquito season is still a few weeks away, so people need to continue preventative measures.

"The peak season isn't here yet," Johnston said, "so don't give up the bug juice; keep spraying DEET and keep the ponds mosquito-free."

Johnston noted that the Sublette County West Nile Virus Task Force is active and has already been called into action once, when the county's first infected horse was discovered, only to be followed by a potential human case as well. Although the human case ended up being a false alarm, the task force quickly organized "selective mosquito control in what we considered to be a potentially high risk area," Johnston said.

The task force consists of Les Burrough, who heads the county mosquito-control effort, Johnston, County Sanitarian Keith Raney, mosquito abatement district representatives from Pinedale and Big Piney and the Sublette County Commission.

Johnston in particular commented on the commission's cooperation in addressing the issue.

"They have been nothing but cooperative and willing to help," he said.

As of Monday, the CDC reported 772 human cases of WNV in the nation this year, with 17 deaths.

By following the "5 D's" people can eliminate breeding sites for mosquitoes and avoid getting bitten:

(1) DAWN AND (2) DUSK - When possible, avoid spending time outside at dawn and dusk.

(3) DRESS - Wear shoes, socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.

(4) DRAIN - Reduce the amount of standing water in or near your property by draining and/or removing it. Mosquitoes may lay eggs in areas with standing water.

(5) DEET - For additional protection from mosquitoes, use an insect repellent containing DEET. Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET because mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing.

People with mild WNV infections may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. This is called West Nile fever. People with more severe infections may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis. This is called West Nile encephalitis. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your health care provider.

Information on WNV and prevention strategies are available on the Internet at or by calling 1-877-WYO-BITE.

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