West Nile has made its way to the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
According to a news release from the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, mosquitoes collected in a trap Aug. 7 during a routine surveillance have tested positive for the virus by the reservation’s Mosquito Abatement Program, operated by Vector Disease Control International.
“In order to accurately test the mosquito sample we collected, we had to split the total number of mosquitoes into two test pools, each containing 33 Culex tarsalis mosquitoes,” said Tim Bennett, the program’s director, in a news release. “One pool from this sample tested negative, while the second pool tested positive for West Nile virus. This indicates that although the virus is now in the mosquito population in this area, less than half of the Culex mosquitoes in the area are currently carrying the virus, which reduces the likelihood of infection in people.”
The Centers for Disease Control says about 80 percent of people who are infected with West Nile will not show any symptoms at all, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness. Severe symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
Bennett said with the hot weather and relatively high population of mosquitoes, the detection of the virus has been expected.
“The early detection of WNV in mosquitoes is one of the primary reasons for our comprehensive mosquito surveillance and control program. We set mosquito traps throughout Fort Hall every week in order to test for West Nile virus and to determine which control activities need to be undertaken in what areas,” said Bennett.
The VDCI has increased larval control activity and spraying for adult mosquitoes in the area by truck. The Shoshone-Bannock Tribes are looking for signs of the virus in dead or sick magpies, crows, starlings, squirrels and horses. So far, they have found no such signs.
To reduce mosquito larvae in the area, irrigation water flow in canals and ditches have been reduced. Tribal officials have also notified residents in the affected areas and provided them with resources to help protect themselves from mosquitoes.
Elsewhere in Idaho, Ada, Canyon, Gem, and Payette and Owyhee counties have tested positive for the virus this year.