LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — West Nile virus cases have exploded in Clark County, prompting the Southern Nevada Health District to declare an outbreak.
The district is now reporting 28 cases, 12 more since Aug. 8. Fewer of the recent cases are of the more serious form of the illness transmitted by mosquitoes, but overall, 17 of the 28 cases are neuroinvasive.
“The West Nile virus activity we are seeing in our community is a serious public health concern,” said Dr. Joe Iser, Chief Health Officer of the Southern Nevada Health District. “I urge people to protect themselves from mosquito bites by using repellents whenever they are outdoors and to make sure they are eliminating standing water from around their homes.”
Nearly 1 in 5 mosquitoes tested is positive for the virus, far exceeding last year’s levels, when 0.1 percent tested positive. Infected mosquitoes have been found in 39 unique ZIP codes in Southern Nevada.
West Nile virus is preventable by avoiding exposure to mosquitoes and using repellent.
Most people with the virus (eight out of 10) will have no symptoms or very mild symptoms of illness. About 1 in 5 people will develop mild symptoms which include fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus recover completely but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
About one in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous symptom such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord).