Greene County Health Official talks presence of West Nile

By Gary Scott on August 2, 2017 at 12:40pm

The case of West Nile virus being detected from a mosquito in Roodhouse may have area residents more wary of their pesky bug bites.

When Greene County health officials confirmed the presence of West Nile, it was the first such finding in Greene or surrounding counties this year.

Director of Environmental Health for the Greene County Health Department Stephen Shireman says this isn’t the first time the illness has been found in Greene County, though this time it was present in different area than in the past.

“We have set up mosquito traps in various locations, and we have again, on several different occasions, have identified West Nile activity, predominantly in the southern end of Greene County, so it’s nothing really new. This one happened to come from the northern end of the county. Traditionally we give notice to residents that it has been identified. From our viewpoint, identifying a positive test for West Nile activity is worthy of a notice that encompasses all citizens of the county,” says Shireman.

Shireman says the health department collects mosquitoes from different places throughout the county. He explains that process, and how this particular case was discovered.

“We go through a process where we collect mosquitoes in a trap. It’s conducted by basically stagnant water with a tube and a fan in it that blows air up into a net, we collect those on a regular basis. Then we go through a process of analyzing those mosquitoes. It either hits or it misses, and as it turned out, this one happened to identify the virus,” Shireman explains.

Shireman discusses the potential symptoms and risks associated with West Nile, and who might be more vulnerable to the virus.

“It’s impossible to say who might be at risk. Generally they assume that folks over fifty (years old) are at a higher risk, but nevertheless, historically, we’ve seen where this virus can have a negative or significant negative impact on individuals from practically any age. So our notice is designed to make citizens aware of it and to take whatever preventative measures they possibly can and reduce mosquito populations and also protect ourselves individually,” says Shireman.

The only other West Nile finding in the area this year came from Godfrey back in May. Shireman says he believes West Nile virus is no more prevalent in Greene County than anywhere else.

Some preventative measures to combat the threat of West Nile virus include wearing insect repellent and protective clothing, and to get rid of areas containing standing water.