American Crow Tests Positive for West Nile Virus in Cattaraugus County

OLEAN, NY — The Cattaraugus County Health Department is urging residents to take precautions to avoid mosquito bites and protect themselves from potential exposure to the mosquito-borne illnesses West Nile Virus (WNV) and Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE).

On Aug. 12, 2013, the Health Department was notified by Chautauqua County Health Department that five mosquito pools tested positive for EEE in the southern parts of Chautauqua County. On Aug. 16, a Declaration of an Imminent Threat to Public Health for Mosquito-Borne Diseases has been declared for Chautauqua County based upon these findings.

Both WNV and EEE are serious viral diseases that are transmitted to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. They are different diseases caused by different viruses and transmitted by different mosquito species.

Residents of Cattaraugus County are urged to follow these precautions to defend against mosquito bites:

• Use insect repellent properly. Those that contain DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus are most effective but should be used with care. Read the product label and use according to package instructions.

• Limit outdoor activities in areas where mosquitoes are most active and between dusk and dawn, which is the peak mosquito biting time.

• If you have to be outside, wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, shoes and socks as weather permits.

• Repair or replace all window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.

• Reduce or eliminate all standing water.

• Empty or dispose of pails, cans, flowerpots, or similar water-holding containers.

• Clear roof gutters, remove leaf debris from yards and gardens, and clean vegetation and debris from the edge of ponds.

Turn over wheelbarrows and wading pools when not in use.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs, and drain pool covers.

• Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds.

Change the water in birdbaths and horse troughs twice a week.

• Dispose properly of old tires.

The risk of contracting either the WNV virus or EEE runs from June through September, with peak activity late July to August. Last year, Cattaraugus County reported one human case of West Nile Virus.

West Nile virus (WNV) usually develops within 3 to 14 days after exposure; however, it may take up to three weeks for signs to appear in those with weakened immune systems. Many people do not experience any signs of illness, but mild symptoms could include fever, headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea and possibly a skin rash or swollen lymph glands. The person’s health usually improves after several days, but they may feel tired, weak and generally unwell for weeks.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) is a rare illness in humans but often a deadly disease. It is transmitted by mosquitoes and can affect humans, birds, horses and other mammals. Signs of EEE infection begin about four to 10 days after being bitten with a sudden headache, high fever, chills and vomiting. The illness may then progress into disorientation, seizures, coma or inflammation of the brain (encephalitis). It causes death in most cases; however, some people will survive the infection and have mild to severe brain damage for life. There is no specific treatment for EEE; care is based on symptoms.

There is no commercially available human vaccine for either WNV or EEE. The best way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you.