West Nile virus found in Jackson County

First detection of the West Nile Virus was confirmed Thursday from samples collected last week in Northeast Medford. According to the Jackson County Vector Control, samples collected on Aug. 10 tested positive for the virus. The samples were then sent to Oregon State University Diagnostic Laboratory where the positive results were confirmed.

Mosquitoes from the same area were tested again on Aug. 14 and 15, with no samples testing positive.

"There have been some mosquitoes that tested positive for West Nile but the numbers are very low" says Eugene Papineau, manager of JCVC. "This means that West Nile is here, but it is not widespread."

The mosquitoes, found in Northeast Medford near Delta Waters Road and Cedar Links Golf Course, are the first positive confirmation of the virus in 2007.

The Vector Control District will test other parts of the valley in the next two nights, and return to the original site for further testing near the end of the week.

"We put traps around the area, but there is no place specific that we can pinpoint," Papineau said. "It is important for people to take precautionary measures not to be producing them near our homes."

JCVCD sprays in specific areas between 4 and 10 a.m., in an effort to eliminate mosquitoes that could be dangerous. But preventative measures by the community are still the best way to combat outbreaks.

"Mosquitoes are most active in the warm evenings. Make sure to wear long sleeves, and eliminate stagnant water," he said.

Mosquito breeding increases in hot summer temperatures, usually between August and October. New mosquitoes can hatch in as little as a week from eggs laid in standing water.

One West Nile Virus infection was confirmed in a human last week in Eastern Oregon, where many infections have been found in birds and other animals. But no other mosquitoes in Jackson County have tested positive for the virus this year.

In both 2004 and 2005, one human case of West Nile was confirmed in Jackson County. There were no confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Jackson in 2006, although there were 69 human cases across Oregon.

Most people who are infected with the virus never have enough symptoms to know they have it. Fewer than — percent of the people who are infected become seriously ill. Their symptoms typically include high fever, aches, pain behind the eyes and overall lethargy.

Human cases have been detected this year in California, Idaho and Nevada, but no evidence of the virus has been found in Washington or Montana.

"We want people to be a little more aware that there are dangerous mosquitoes out there and that we are not producing them near our homes," Papineau said.

Vector control workers have had a slow summer so far, with few calls for suspected bird cases. But that is likely to change now that Southern Oregon is deep in the heart of summer.

Trista Ungaro, a lab technician for JCVC, was in Ashland Friday checking on a dead crow reported near the Ashland Street Shopping Center.

"I love my job, but it's not the most glamorous job," Ungaro said as she carefully dropped the large black bird into a plastic bag. If the bird had been dead for less than a day, Ungaro would have taken it in for West Nile testing. However, the decomposition on this bird had progressed to the point where testing would not have been useful.

To report dead birds or to get more information, call the JCVC at 826-2199 or see the Web site . For questions on the disease as it relates to human health, call Jackson County Environmental Health at 774-8206 or call the toll-free state information line at (866) 703-4636.

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