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West Nile virus detected near White City

As if people didn’t have enough to worry about during the COVID-19 pandemic, mosquitoes collected east of White City have tested positive for West Nile virus, the Jackson County Vector Control District announced Tuesday.

The district routinely tests the mosquito population for West Nile virus, according to a news release, as well as for Saint Louis encephalitis and western equine encephalitis by setting up 48 mosquito traps throughout Jackson County weekly. Mosquitoes that are caught are sent to Oregon State University’s Veterinary Diagnostic Lab in Corvallis for testing.

The positive test, recorded Aug. 18, marks the first detection of West Nile virus in Jackson County since 2015, according to the release.

“The last known human case of West Nile virus in Jackson County was in 2005,” said Dr. Emilio DeBoss, state public health veterinarian.

Geoff Taylor, Jackson County Vector Control district manager, said dead bird surveillance is ongoing, and he advises people who spot a sick or dead bird to contact the district at 541-826-2199, so it can be picked up for testing, according to the release.

“Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not become sick,” said Jackson County Public Health Division Manager Jackson Baures, adding that some may develop mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches and occasionally swollen lymph glands or a rash.

Baures said the virus can cause encephalitis, inflammation of the brain, and people experiencing severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.

People 50 and older, with immune compromising conditions, or with diabetes and high blood pressure are most at risk, according the release.

“With warm temperatures expected the rest of this week, we encourage people to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Taylor.

According to the release, people can reduce their risk of exposure by eliminating all sources of standing water such as birdbaths or wading pools, avoiding outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active, applying mosquito repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long pants in mosquito-infested areas and by making sure all screen doors and windows are in good condition.