The Kentucky Department for Public Health has confirmed West Nile virus in five Louisville residents. Four of the West Nile cases were neuroinvasive, a serious form of the disease in which the virus attacks the brain or the tissues lining the brain and spinal cord leading to encephalitis or meningitis. There have been no deaths from West Nile this year.
“We urge people to protect themselves against West Nile,” said Dr Sarah Moyer, director of the Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness. You should wear insect repellant and dress in long sleeves and pants if going outside during dusk and dawn.”
“The massive amounts of rain we have seen over the last several days are causing mosquito populations to multiply and we know that West Nile infected mosquitoes are present throughout the community,” said Dr. Moyer.
In most instances, people infected with West Nile virus either show no symptoms or relatively mild symptoms. However, less than one percent of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, people over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk for serious illness.
The Department of Public Health and Wellness advises people to take the following precautions:
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection. To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions. More information about insect repellents can be found here at http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/faq/repellent.html.
When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors. Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection. Don’t apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin. Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.
Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours. Take extra care to use repellent and protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it.
Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths on a regular basis.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness has operated a mosquito control program for more than 50 years. The department does surveillance of mosquito populations with traps strategically located throughout the community and tests mosquitos for such diseases as West Nile, Zika and St. Louis Encephalitis.
In the spring the department pre-treats potential mosquito breeding sites with larvicide to prevent hatch offs. In the summer it treats catch basins and performs mosquito fogging in response to West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne diseases.
In 2017 there was one non-fatal human West Nile case in Louisville. In 2016 there were two human cases and one death. In 2015, there were three human cases with no deaths.
To check if your area has been fogged or will be fogged call the mosquito hotline, 574-6641, or visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/health-wellness/mosquito-fogging. To make a request regarding mosquitoes in your neighborhood call Metro Call at 311 or 574-5000.