Health Care

Health Department announces year’s first case of West Nile Virus

A resident of Windsor County became ill with West Nile Virus in mid-June, marking the first case of the disease in Vermont in 2016.

The Vermont Department of Health did not disclose the name, age, or gender of the infected person. But the department said the person has “West Nile neuroinvasive disease,” which is a more serious form of the disease that affects the nervous system.

The Vermont Department of Health issued a public service announcement urging people to protect themselves from mosquito bites. West Nile virus is spread through mosquito bites, and the mosquitos who carry it live throughout Vermont.

Most infected people don’t become ill, but 20 percent could experience high fever, muscle aches, headache and fatigue, the department said.

The type of disease that affects the nervous system affects less than 1 percent of infected people, the department said, but can be fatal. Symptoms include disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.

To protect from mosquito bites, the state recommends the following:

1. Limit time outside at night because mosquitos are most active.
2. Wear long sleeves and long pants outdoors when mosquitos are active.
3. Use bug spray registered with the Environmental Protection Agency that are labeled as being protective against mosquitos. The insect repellant should contain no more than 30 percent DEET for adults and children, and babies under 2 months should not be exposed to DEET.
4. Because mosquitos breed in standing water, drain areas where water builds up such as rain gutters, wading pools, and old tires.
5. Make sure there are screens on your windows and doors to keep out mosquitos, and repair broken ones.

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Erin Mansfield

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