Human case of West Nile Virus in Churchill County

The state has confirmed a human case of West Nile Virus in Churchill County after a patient was treated and has since been released from Banner Churchill Community Hospital.

The hospital’s Dr. Tedd McDonald, who also serves as chairperson of the Churchill County Board of Health, said there have been a couple cases showing signs of West Nile Virus and encephalitis (brain inflammation caused by a virus; symptoms include headache, neck pain, drowsiness, nausea and fever). But he said only the one confirmed by the state could be localized to originating in the Churchill County area.

“We don’t have a real specific area, because this patient has been in a lot of different parts of the county,” McDonald said, mentioning being near irrigation canals and out to Lahontan Reservoir. “The person has not left the county.”

McDonald said the other individuals, to his understanding, have been to numerous places so it’s difficult to pinpoint.

“All I know for sure is there is one confirmed case,” McDonald said.

McDonald also explained the state goes through a process to confirm these types of cases including interviewing patients with questions such as where have they traveled, reviewing patient history and serum testing. He said the one patient resulted in a call from the state that the individual had most likely had exposure here in the county.

The board of health met Tuesday afternoon and approved a letter of support for the county and mosquito abatement to apply for more resources and federal funding due to the desired preparedness.

Nancy Upham, manager of the Mosquito, Vector and Weed Control District Board, shared in a previous Lahontan Valley News article that the record snow pack in the Sierras poses a concern beyond flood mitigation — more standing, warm water spread throughout the county means more mosquitos bred, which contract the virus after feeding on the higher population as well of disease-carrying birds.

Upham added the “human, horse or other mammal is considered a terminal, dead-end host; unlike birds, they are unable to develop high levels of virus in their bloodstream and cannot pass the virus on to other biting mosquitoes.”

The county is continuing to treat larvae (juvenile mosquitoes) and adult mosquitoes with safe-to-humans ground and aerial chemicals as well as test mosquito sample pools for viruses.

If residents within Churchill County have questions about mosquito control or mosquito-borne illnesses, call the district office at 775-423-2828; leave a message with your name, address and phone number and the calls will be logged as service requests for technicians to treat any issues found. Other questions can be submitted to district staff via email at

“With encephalitis coming in we’re all a little on higher alert,” McDonald said, adding the hospital and independent practitioners such as area family practices are aware and watching more closely. “We know what we’re treating; we go ahead and treat it. And we want to verify what we have.”

The county and health practitioners encourage residents to use mosquito repellent, wear protective clothing and remove nearby standing water if possible.

“I don’t think we’re going to have an epidemic,” McDonald said. “Just my suspicion.”

McDonald added he thinks it smart if we follow in the vein of what was done regarding flood preparation, being proactive.


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