West Nile virus found in Carson City
Health official says no reason to panic
By Teri Vance
Tribune News Service
CARSON CITY – A dead crow found in a capital city yard Friday tested positive for West Nile virus, Nevada’s first reported case of the disease.
“There’s no reason to panic,” said Daren Winkelman, the city’s health director. “This is no warning of any sort. We just want people to be aware it’s here.”
Over the weekend, Washoe County District Health Department’s Vector Borne Disease Program installed 20 mosquito traps in the area where the crow was found.
Only one trap caught any mosquitoes in the 24-hour period. All of them tested negative for the disease.
“We’re not dealing with a huge mosquito population here,” said Mike Faisy, senior environmental health specialist.
Although West Nile virus may lead to swelling of the brain or the membranes around the brain and spinal cord, it is only about a 1 percent risk.
Most exhibit no symptoms at all. About one in 150 will suffer from headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis.
Officials said the public can play an important role in tracking the possible spread of the disease.
“The dead crow was reported to Carson City Health Department by an alert citizen who knew we were looking for dead birds to test,” said David Thain, state veterinarian. “Dead and sick bird reporting is an important component to our surveillance efforts.”
Health department officials also advise people to take precautions against mosquito bites when outdoors, especially around dawn or dusk.
Horse owners should also vaccinate against the West Nile virus as soon as possible. In California, there was one case of equine West Nile virus reported last year.
This year, 26 case have been reported nationwide and, of those, 11 people have died.