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Hazelwood's Ready: First Likely Human West Nile Virus Case Reported in St. Louis County

St. Louis County health officials said Tuesday the first probable human case of West Nile Virus has been reported, but the City of Hazelwood says the risk is low thanks to months of preparation and protecting residents.

The St. Louis County Department of Health made the annoucement in a news release Tuesday. Health officials stated that they believe they have their first human case of West Nile Virus in 2012.

The victim is reportedly a 55-year-old woman from Kirkwood who suffered West Nile symptoms, but has since resumed normal activities.

The news comes one week

As previously reported by Patch,  

The health department stated that the county had two confirmed human West Nile Virus case in 2011.

City of Hazelwood Steps Up

"The city has been taking pro-active measures to control the mosquito population this summer," said communications coordinator Tim Davidson, adding that the risk of a West Nile epidemic happening here is minimal.

“We’ve been fogging for mosquitoes twice a week covering the whole city since the month of May,” said Paul Williams, Hazelwood Street Maintenance Department supervisor. 

“The extreme heat and drought conditions we had this summer cut down on the number of mosquitoes in our area because there was very little standing water where their larvae could hatch," Williams said. "But the milder temperatures may cause the mosquito population to grow which is why we’re prepared to continue our mosquito fogging efforts until October.”

In addition to fogging, the City of Hazelwood has been using “dunks,” which are products that kill mosquito larvae. Most mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water where the larvae hatch in a day or two, Davidson said, and they need water in which to pass through their early life stages.

The city reports that the “dunks” have proven to be effective in reducing the mosquito population. 

Hazelwood Residents: Get a Dunk at Your House

If you're having trouble with mosquitoes at your house, the City of Hazelwood can install “dunks” for you.  Just call the Street Maintenance Department at (314) 731-8701 to make an appointment.

More on West Nile

More details are included in the following news release issued by the Saint Louis County Department of Health Tuesday.

The Saint Louis County Department of Health has recorded its first probable human case of West Nile Virus this year. The victim is a 55-year-old Kirkwood female who has since resumed normal activities after suffering WNV-type symptoms. The county had two confirmed human West Nile Virus case in 2011.

“Even though serious West Nile Virus cases in humans are rare, it is important to minimize our exposure,” said Health Department Director Dr. Dolores J. Gunn. “We can do this by eliminating opportunities for mosquitoes to breed and multiply and by protecting ourselves by using repellants,”

Here are steps residents can take to reduce the opportunities for mosquitoes to flourish:

  • Flexible drainage pipe is commonly used to drain water from downspouts.  A big drawback is that it holds water and breeds mosquitoes if not properly sloped when installed.
  • At least once a week, drain water from garbage cans, buckets, toys, flowerpots, wading pools, pet dishes, and other objects that can collect water. Change water in birdbaths at least once a week.
  • Look for products containing the active ingredient methoprene or Bti (Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis) to place in birdbaths or ponds, to prevent mosquitoes from developing.
  • Keep gutters cleaned out, and repair any tears in door and window screens.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and light colors outdoors.
  • Spray clothing with repellents containing DEET or picaridin.

The Health Department routinely collects mosquito samples to test and help determine where to focus control efforts.  Vector Control monitors and treats standing water in public areas as part of its preventative larviciding program.

The St. Louis County Department of Health website offers a general spraying schedule and specific spray routes will be available each evening by calling the hotline at 314 615-4BUG (314 615-4284). Residents can also visit the county's website or contact St. Louis County Vector Control at 314 615-0680 for more details on mosquito prevention.

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