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Preventing West Nile Virus

Alabama public health officials have confirmed another case of West Nile virus in Alabama, this time in Ozark.

It was detected in a dead blue jay.

An Ozark resident found the bird in their yard on June 27. The house was in the Brown Subdivision. Tests conducted on the bird just came back confirming it was inflicted with the West Nile virus.

The disease is spread by mosquitoes. Ozark Mayor Bob Bunting said the city is continuing the mosquito spray program. The city is also about to start a new preventive measure to destroy the mosquito larvae before it hatches.

Bunting said the city took immediate action once the blue jay's test results came back.

The city is also placing doorknockers on houses with safety tips.

Local health officials advise area residents to:

  • Limit their outdoor exposure during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are likely to bite.
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt outdoors when mosquitoes are present.
  • Use mosquito repellent with DEET on exposed skin.
  • Repair holes and tears in screens so that mosquitoes won't be able to get through.
  • Eliminate stagnant water from around the house. Unkept swimming pools and gutters are prime places for mosquitoes to breed.

    Bunting is asking city residents to report anyone who is not keeping those areas up so the city can go check it out.

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    West Nile Virus Facts

    • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

    • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

    • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

    How is the West Nile Virus Spread?

    • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

    • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

    • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

    • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

    • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

    • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

    • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

    Symptoms of the Virus

    • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

    • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

    • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

    Protecting Yourself

    • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

    • Wear long and light colored clothing.

    • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

    • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

    • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

    Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report


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