Frank Kruppa, Public Health Director at the Tompkins County Health Department reports the first confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year in Tompkins County. The case is an adult resident of Tompkins County.

West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Most people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis.

Mr. Kruppa noted that while a person’s chance of getting sick may be low, it is important to keep in mind that everyone is at risk of becoming infected with WNV and it is important to take precautions. “The best way to protect yourself and your family from WNV infection is to avoid exposure to mosquitoes.  He urges Tompkins County residents to take the following preventive steps for avoiding mosquito exposure:

  • Eliminate standing water which serves as mosquito breeding areas:
    – Dispose of used tires, tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic pots or other water holding containers.
    – Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors.
    – Turn over wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use.
    – Change the water in bird baths twice weekly.
  • Repair window and doors screens to prevent mosquitoes from entering the house.
  • Avoid the outdoors between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Dress with long sleeves and pants and cover as much skin as possible to reduce areas for mosquitoes to bite.
  • Use mosquito repellent that contain DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus and always follow product label instructions.