After three quiet years, West Nile virus has popped back up in Bingham County.
Ft. Hall’s mosquito abatement authorities reported a positive-testing batch of mosquitoes trapped on the reservation just days ago.
Disease control experts in Bingham County said they’re doing everything they can to keep infected mosquitoes from reaching humans.
One pool of 33 mosquitoes has tested positive for West Nile virus.
The whole batch could be contaminated or as little as one. Whatever the case, Bingham County abatement is amping up spraying and surveillance.
There are precautions ordinary people can take too.
“What you want to do to protect yourself from West Nile is use bug spray, and also, when mosquitoes are most active from dusk until dawn, it’s good to wear pants and long sleeves,” said epidemiologist Ken Anderson.
Anderson said only about 1/150 people who have west nile will actually develop serious symptoms.
When they do, it starts out with feelings of fatigue, fever and achiness similar to the flu, which can develop into full-blown meningitis and encephalitis.
Most people will never know they have west nile. In fact, a person could have already contracted the illness and be immune to it already.
Anderson said this is no reason to not use protection though.
“Unless you’ve been tested, you don’t know if you’re one of those people, so please take your precautions,” said Anderson.
A local company is helping people do that in a unique way. Pharmgrade out of Bonneville County exchanged the powerful chemical repellent deet with all-natural cedar oil in its bug blocker.
Representative Kim Summers said it’s a way you can fight mosquitoes and West Nile without worrying about your pets and children inhaling the spray.
“It’s something that can be used on your properties, in your trees,” said Summers.
There is no human vaccine for west nile virus yet. Doctors recommend rest and plenty of fluids for those who do contract the illness.
So far this year, only three people in Idaho have been diagnosed with it.
Back in 2006, our state led the nation with more than 1,000 reported cases.