WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2016

Wyoming reports first death from West Nile virus

The Wyoming Department of Health reported its first death of the season on Tuesday from West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne pathogen.

The number of West Nile virus cases were up to 13 overall, with 10 coming from Fremont County, one each from Natrona and Platte counties and the one fatal case from Park County. The health department is following up on potential additional cases.

"We have definitely seen an uptick in WNV cases in Wyoming over the last few weeks," Emily Thorp, a WDH surveillance epidemiologist, said. "South Dakota, a neighboring state, is experiencing a particularly active WNV season and WNV reports have recently gone up across the country."

Last year in Wyoming, there were seven cases of West Nile virus reported with no deaths. The number of West Nile virus cases has varied significantly since the virus first appeared in the state in 2002. There were as few reported human cases as two with no deaths in one season and as many as 393 cases with nine deaths during another.

Thorp suggested that Wyoming residents take precautions by avoiding spending time outside at dawn and dusk, wearing long sleeves and long pants for protection, draining or removing standing water and using an insect repellent containing DEET.

While most people infected with West Nile virus do not develop symptoms, some people will develop fever, body aches, skin rash, headache and swollen lymph nodes. A small percentage of infected individuals develop West Nile neuroinvasive disease with symptoms such as severe headache, disorientation, coma and paralysis.