Everyone plays a role in preventing West Nile | NevadaAppeal.com

Everyone plays a role in preventing West Nile

The mosquito season is not even over in Nevada, and already the state has a record number of cases of West Nile virus.

It’s a clear signal that, if you haven’t done so already, it’s time to make adjustments to protect yourself and your family. It’s something that state and local authorities need to do as well.

Just like protecting your home from fire or wearing sunscreen, preventing West Nile disease is a necessary part of living here.

There have been 55 cases so far this year statewide. The total for all of 2005 in Nevada was 30 cases, and there were 44 in 2004.

Those are just the cases that were diagnosed, representing an estimated 20 percent of all those infected. Fortunately, most people with West Nile experience only minor symptoms and never realize they had the disease. At the other extreme is the 34-year-old Douglas County woman who is nearly paralyzed.

There’s no clear reason why there are more cases this year. But there’s no need to take chances.

For individuals, that means getting rid of standing water, using strong mosquito repellent and avoiding mosquito-prone areas at dusk.

Abatement authorities will need to consider more aggressive mosquito-control programs.

The state will also need to refine the way it informs abatement authorities about the latest cases and where they may have occurred. A Douglas County authority recently complained about the lack of that information. State officials say their hands are tied because of rules that prohibit the release of patients’ information, they have limited staff to collect the information, and that where a person lives is not necessarily where they contracted the disease.

Those are hurdles that can be overcome to provide another tool in combating West Nile. Based on the numbers this year, we’ll need every tool we can find.