West Nile virus found in mosquitoes

Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Cape Girardeau County officials have confirmed West Nile virus in two samples of mosquitoes.

The samples collected in different traps in Cape Girardeau July 24 tested positive for the virus, according to Dr. Christina Frazier. Frazier, a Southeast Missouri State University biology professor, works with the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services on the mosquito trapping program for the state.

"We definitely don't want to alarm anybody, but we want to remind and educate that it's still here," Frazier said of the virus.

The traps where the positive samples were collected were near the county's public health center, 1121 Linden St., and between Perry Avenue and Old Sprigg Street Road, she said.

Last year, Cape Girardeau had a single positive mosquito sample, which was collected at about the same time in August, Frazier said.

This is the county's second report of West Nile. A dead crow infected with the virus was found on the grounds of the public health center June 6.

Six trapping sites are spread around the city of Cape Girardeau, with two traps at each site, Frazier said. The mosquitoes are tested in groups of 50, and a single trap can bring upward of 120 mosquitoes, she said.

While mosquito season generally lasts until the first frost, trap collection will continue until the end of September. Frazier said the likelihood of finding infected mosquitoes and the odds of human cases peak in August.

Up to 20 percent of people infected with the virus experience symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and sometimes skin rash, according to a news release form the county public health center. The other 80 percent infected do not show any symptoms.

About one out of 150 people infected with the virus develop severe illnesses, the release stated.

kmorrison@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 127


Need to know

How to protect against West Nile virus:

* Eliminate containers that could hold water, such as buckets and empty flower pots.

* Install or repair window screens so mosquitoes cannot get inside.

* Place mosquito netting over infant carriers.

* Apply insect repellent to exposed skin and clothing.

* Drain livestock water tanks weekly.

* Clean gutters of debris.

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