The Saint Louis County Department of Health has recorded its first probable human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) this year. The victim is a 59-year-old male who was released from a county hospital after suffering WNV-type symptoms. The county has had nine confirmed human West Nile Virus cases since 2011.

West Nile virus
Culex quinquefasciatus mosquito/CDC

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

West Nile Virus is spread through bites from infected mosquitoes. 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 for testing to help determine where to focus control efforts. Vector Control monitors and treats standing water in public areas as part of its preventative larviciding program. To find out where the county will be spraying, call (314) 615-4-BUG (615-4284) for the nightly mosquito-spraying schedule.