Friday, Sept. 14, 2012 | 11:59 a.m.
A 75 year-old Clark County woman has been diagnosed with West Nile virus, the first case reported this year in the county, according to the Southern Nevada Health District.
The woman was diagnosed with the more serious neuroinvasive form of the illness and is currently hospitalized.
There have been 2,600 cases of West Nile virus reported so far this year in the United States, including 118 deaths, a record pace according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which acquire the virus by feeding on infected birds. The illness is not spread person to person.
Many people with the virus will have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Symptoms include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. In some cases the virus can cause severe illness and even death. The neuroinvasive form of the disease will inflame the brain and affect the nervous system, according to the CDC.
In 2011, Nevada reported 16 cases, 11 of which were in Clark County. In 2010, however, there were no human cases of West Nile virus reported in Clark County.
The illness can be prevented by using insect repellants and eliminating sources of standing water, where mosquitoes breed, according to the Health District, which urged the community to take precautions.
The Health District first reported West Nile-positive mosquitoes in August in the 89107 ZIP code, a rectangle in Las Vegas marked by U.S. 95 and Charleston Boulevard to the north and south respectively, Rancho Drive to the east and Rainbow Boulevard to the west. The Health District is continuing to monitor and test mosquitoes throughout the Las Vegas Valley.
Residents can report green swimming pools and standing or stagnant water sources to local code enforcement agencies. Contact information for code enforcement officials by jurisdiction is available on the Health District website.
The Health District also recommends the following to prevent mosquito bites and to eliminate breeding sources:
• Apply an insect repellent containing DEET (N, N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) according to manufacturer’s directions.
• Repellents containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus also have some efficacy. However, DEET is the best-studied and most-effective repellant available.
• Wear pants and long-sleeved shirts, when outdoors.
• Avoid spending time outside when mosquitoes are most active, notably at dusk (the first two hours after sunset) and dawn.
• Eliminate areas of standing water, including bird baths, “green” swimming pools and sprinkler runoff, which support mosquito breeding.
For information about prevention tips, visit the Health District’s West Nile virus pages on its website.