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Promoting Protection: Wyoming Department of Health Steps Up Against Increasing West Nile Virus Cases


Sep 13, 2023

The Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) is alerting Wyoming residents about the increasing number of West Nile virus cases and urging caution. So far this year, there have been 21 confirmed cases in nine counties, including one death in Fremont County. The virus has been detected in mosquito pools and animals throughout the state. According to Courtney Tillman, an epidemiologist at WDH, the increase in cases this year is due to various factors such as humidity and temperature fluctuations. Twelve out of the 21 cases were classified as neuroinvasive, which is a more severe strain of the virus.

Despite the increase in cases, health officials emphasize that most people infected with the virus do not experience symptoms or may have mild reactions such as a rash or diarrhea. However, adults over the age of 60 and individuals with weakened immune systems are more susceptible to the virus. Tillman highlights that anyone bitten by an infected mosquito could potentially develop symptoms of West Nile fever. The peak of West Nile virus season is in August and September, so more cases are expected until at least the end of this month.

To reduce the risk of contracting West Nile virus, the WDH recommends several precautions. These include avoiding outdoor activities during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, wearing long clothing, and using insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, or lemon eucalyptus oil. It is also important to eliminate standing water as it provides breeding grounds for mosquitoes. Installing screens on windows and using permethrin-treated clothing can further protect against mosquito bites.

West Nile virus is spread through infected mosquitoes that bite both birds and humans. The number of human infections reported each year can vary greatly, ranging from one case to several hundred. Certain bird species, such as crows, ravens, jays, and raptors, are particularly susceptible to the virus. For any concerns regarding wild birds, individuals are encouraged to contact their local Wyoming Game and Fish Office or call (307) 745-5865.

By Editor

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