West Nile virus activity widespread in Missouri

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COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has received reports of West Nile virus activity in all parts of Missouri.

Seven reported cases have been identified in the nervous systems of infected individuals. Three of these cases are in St. Louis County, three in St. Louis City and one in Schuyler County in north-central Missouri.

Four positive blood donors of the virus have also been identified, located in St. Louis, St. Charles, Miller, and Cape Girardeau counties.

Eight cases of the virus in horses have been recorded through the year, with only one in Mid-Missouri, found in Cole County.

An additional 25 dead bird sightings, one in Boone County, have been recorded across the state in species known to be sensitive to West Nile, but there is currently no testing of dead or sick wild birds.

St. Louis and Jefferson counties have reported positive mosquito samples they collected and tested throughout the summer.

Boone County has no human cases of West Nile to date, and city officials are working to keep it that way.

"We have a truck that goes out usually early summer throughout the rest of summer and sprays the trails, which are pretty common, low-line areas with standing water where mosquitoes could breed and hang out," said Andrea Waner, the public information officer for the Columbia/Boone County Health Department of Public Health and Human Services.

According to Waner, the department will spray neighborhoods as well.

West Nile virus is mostly spread by bites from infected mosquitoes, but can also be transmitted through transplants of infected organs and blood products.

Approximately eighty percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus will not show any symptoms.  Less than one percent will develop the much more serious effects of the virus.

Waner said the best ways to avoid illness due to West Nile virus is to avoid mosquito bites.

"If you know you're going to be outside, dress appropriately, take the appropriate proactive actions with bugs spray, and clean up the areas around your home that could be breeding grounds for mosquitoes."

The West Nile Virus is most common in August and September.

To see an updated report of mosquito-borne diseases in Missouri, click here.