West Nile Virus detected on post, experts offer preventive tips
Story by Elaine Sanchez, BAMC Public Affairs
Published August 8, 2012
Photo courtesy of Onondaga County Health Department
Many mosquito problems can be reduced by eliminating breeding sites or standing water and emptying containers that hold water.
The West Nile Virus has been detected on Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston; however, a few simple preventive measures can help to abate the issue, post officials said.
"Three sample pools of mosquitoes collected July 18 tested positive for West Nile Virus by Public Health Command South," said Capt. Lyndsay Knoblock-Fast, Brooke Army Medical Center preventive medicine entomologist. "One human case and no confirmed animal cases on Fort Sam Houston."
Larviciding, which is mosquito population control, will be performed in specific locations as deemed necessary, officials said. If needed, notification of fogging dates and times to tenant commands and housing residents will be made public.
Meanwhile, the local medical community has been advised to be vigilant for WNV infection.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection, though they may choose to do so.
People who develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, should seek medical attention immediately. Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization.
Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.
According to experts, 80 percent of patients bitten by WNV-infected mosquitoes will have no symptoms; 20 percent may develop flu-like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting and occasional rash on the chest and back; and 1 percent may develop more severe symptoms of meningitis, encephalitis or paralysis. People typically develop symptoms between three and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
However, experts added, only specific mosquito species can transmit WNV so most mosquito bites don’t warrant medical evaluation. The chances any person will become severely ill from any one mosquito bite are extremely small.
JBSA-Fort Sam Houston residents and building managers can take a few simple precautionary measures to ensure everyone’s safety, according to Frank Martinez, team leader of the 502nd Civil Engineer Squadron’s pest control unit.
"Many mosquito problems can be reduced by eliminating breeding sites or standing water and emptying containers that hold water," Martinez said. "That is the single most effective measure people can take to eliminate the places where mosquitoes breed."
Other measures include:
- Not allowing puddles to form on your lawn as a result of excessive watering;
- Placing tiny holes in the bottom of recycling bins without lids;
- Replacing water in birdbaths;
- Getting rid of old tires;
- Preventing bottles, tin cans, buckets or drums from collecting water;
- Wearing a long sleeve shirt or pants if going outdoors at dawn, dusk or the early evening; and
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent on your skin and clothing according to the directions on the product label.
According to the Texas Public Health Information Network, a higher than usual number of human West Nile Virus cases have been reported this year due to the warm winter and recent rains.
For questions or concerns, call BAMC Preventive Medicine Services at 295-2328 or 2742. For information regarding pets, including horses, contact JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Veterinary Services at 808-6101 or 6104.
For more information on the virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/.