West Nile Virus is now present in southwest Idaho
First day of annual testing shows the dangerous disease in local mosquitoes-
Throughout most of the 20th Century in the United States getting bitten by mosquitoes was an irritation, sometimes a major one, but something without lasting effects. This was never true in many other countries where Yellow Fever, Dengue Fever, malaria, and many more were common in mosquitoes. Yes, a person here could rarely get equine encephalitis from U.S. mosquitos, but it was hardly worth a worry.
Since about 2001, however, West Nile Virus has swept across the United States. It is relatively common and though most infected do not have any obvious symptoms, a significant number do. Of that group, those who are older often end up with a prolonged illness, disabled or dead. In 2006, 23 people died in Idaho from the virus, but last year cases were few. This variability from year to year is a common observation. As a result, many areas have established programs such as the one described in the Idaho Statesman article. For the first time since 2009, mosquitoes test positive for West Nile virus in Canyon County Note. The Idaho Statesman updated the link, so we did too. Originally it referred only to Ada County, but now Canyon County has been added.
These SW Idaho mosquitoes were not only full of West Nile, the infection is earlier this year. West Nile infected mosquitoes increase in proportion of the total as the summer wears on. So, while bites become less frequent as summer progresses, you have to worry more about each bite.
The Idaho Statesman article is only about a locale. Those who are outdoor enthusiasts need to check their local West Nile monitoring to find out their local danger level.
Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan's Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of "Hiking Idaho." He also wrote "Beyond the Tetons" and "Backpacking Wyoming's Teton and Washakie Wilderness." He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.
6 Responses to West Nile Virus is now present in southwest Idaho
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This can be very serious. A close friend of mine in Michigan recently died of this disease. He was in a coma for 6 months prior to his death. He was a great supporter of wildlife especially birds, and volunteered 1000’s of hours in the field every year to help the cause. He is greatly missed. Be careful out there!
Sorry to hear about your friend Carl.
I wonder if anyone is working on a vaccine? The virus has been around for over 10 years and has spread rapidly across the country.
Several private and corporate labs have worked on or are working on vaccine candidates. Problem being, there’s no skin in this game (no serious money to be made). With few exceptions pharmaceutical candidates only progress through R&D, safety trials, and required clinical trials if someone (generally, Big Pharma) foresees a potential profit down the road. No WNV vaccine is likely to ever bring big profits – if it were, there would be multiple vaccines on the market competing for your physician’s dollars. Heck, horse people don’t vaccinate much for WNV anymore (short sighted) and we can’t even get enough people vaccinated for something as ubiquitous and very serious from a public health perspective as influenza virus. I had the pleasure of suffering through WNV fever years ago. Good fun requiring a stay in the hospital. Memories are short (including at NIH, CDC, and in public health departments around the nation) – many states do minimal to no WNV surveillance anymore. The last panic was H5N1 “bird flu” – who knows what the next panic (and short term overreaction with no plan for long term surveillance or follow-up) will be. Protect yourself from mosquitoes and WNV is your best strategy.
Thanks for the “update” TC.
I’ve seen little mosquito activity on my little patch of land (which certainly hasn’t been the case in years past) yet just up the valley from me, they are out in force and raising hell with the locals.
Have to wonder what’s changed their usual plan of attack/attraction.
An FYI on WNV:
The growing reluctance of many Americans to immunization is baffling to me, although there are conspiracy theories at work.
Vaccines are a topic where there are as many, and maybe more, left-wing conspiracy theories as there are right wing ones.
It is a matter of irritation to me because vaccinated people are an indirect menace to the rest of the human population.
When it first came around – it took it’s tool on the crows & bluebirds here in IL. (northern) It was sad to not see those birds for @ least 4 or 5 years. They finally made a come back into the area (the crows & bluejays) But boy did those birds take a hit.