Additional Idaho counties are finding evidence of West Nile virus this week, with Owyhee and Bingham Counties reporting positive mosquito pools. Seven Idaho counties have now identified West Nile virus, with Bingham County being the first in Eastern Idaho to identify West Nile activity.
Recent hot weather coupled with periodic rains is thought to have provided good breeding conditions for Culex mosquitoes, which transmit West Nile virus. The Ada County Mosquito Abatement district conducted targeted aerial spraying last week because of growing concern over booming mosquito populations.
There have been no human cases of West Nile virus to date in Idaho, but people need to be vigilant in protecting themselves and their families. Last year, 19 people suffered from West Nile virus infections.
To reduce the likelihood of WNV infection, avoid mosquitoes, particularly between dusk and dawn when they are most active. In addition, you should:
- Cover up exposed skin when outdoors and apply DEET or other EPA-approved insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing. Carefully follow instructions on the product label, especially for children.
- Insect-proof your home by repairing or replacing screens.
- Reduce standing water on your property; check and drain toys, trays or pots outdoors which may hold water.
- Change bird baths and static decorative ponds weekly as they may provide a suitable mosquito habitat.
WNV does not usually affect domestic animals, including dogs and cats, but it can cause severe illness in horses and certain species of birds. Although there is no human vaccine available, there are several vaccines available for horses. People are advised to keep their horses vaccinated annually.
For more information, visit www.westnile.idaho.gov.