West Nile virus spread wide in '06

Last year was the first time a Nevadan died as a result of West Nile virus. An Elko County man succumbed to a virus-related death in September.

There were eight cases of West Nile discovered among Carson City residents last year. The last human case of West Nile in Nevada was reported in Pershing County in October.

The West Nile season typically runs from July to October, depending on the temperature, and 2006 ended with 123 human cases in Nevada. Only 30 cases were reported around the state in 2005, according to the Nevada State Health Division.

The disease was first detected in Nevada in 2004 and only began showing up in the United States in 1999, said Dr. Anette Rink, director of the animal, disease and food safety laboratory for the state of Nevada.

West Nile virus can cause illness in humans, including encephalitis, which is inflammation of the brain. Mosquitoes contract the virus from birds and pass it on to other birds, other animals, such as horses, and people. The virus is not spread person-to-person.

The presence of dead birds can indicate that West Nile is present in an area or neighborhood, and it's a harbinger that allows suppression of the virus before it spreads to humans. Don't touch dead birds you might come upon, and report the discovery to Carson City Health and Human Services at 887-2190.

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.


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