WHITE CITY, Ore. — Mosquitoes within Jackson County have tested positive for West Nile virus, officials from the county’s public health and vector control agencies announced on Tuesday.

The offending mosquitoes were collected east of White City on August 18. The Oregon State University laboratory in Corvallis later confirmed the presence of West Nile.

The virus spreads to humans through bites from an infected mosquito, the Jackson County Vector Control District said in a statement. About one in every five infected people show signs of West Nile fever.

“Most people who become infected with West Nile virus do not become sick. Some may develop mild flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally swollen lymph glands or rash. In some cases, West Nile may cause encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain,” said Jackson Baures, Jackson County Public Health Division Manager. “Individuals with severe or unusual headaches should seek medical care as soon as possible.”

People at risk include people over 50 years of age, those with compromised immune systems, or those people with diabetes and high blood pressure. Symptoms may include fever above 100 degrees and a severe headache, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, shaking, paralysis, or rash. It is important that you contact your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

While infection is relatively rare, the presence of West Nile in Jackson County is not. Officials said that the virus appeared during eight of the last fifteen years, though it hasn’t been detected since 2015. The last known human West Nile infection in Jackson County was in 2005.

The staff at the Jackson County Vector Control District says it has increased surveillance and control measures within the district in response to the increased public health threat.

“With warm temperatures expected the rest of this week, we encourage people to take appropriate precautions to protect themselves from mosquito bites,” said Taylor.

Taylor offered the following suggestions to reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile virus:

  • Eliminate all sources of standing water that can be a breeding ground for biting mosquitoes, such as flooded fields, watering troughs, birdbaths, wading pools, clogged gutters and old tires. If it holds water for 7 days, it can produce mosquitoes.
  • Stock water troughs and ornamental ponds with mosquito fish, available free at the District Office.
  • Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when in mosquito infested areas.
  • Use mosquito repellents containing DEET, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, IR3535 or Picaridin, making sure to follow the directions on the container.
  • Make sure all screen doors and windows are in good repair and fit tightly.
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