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Southern Nevada Health District: First West Nile death in Clark County

Posted at 9:47 AM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 12:47:44-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The Southern Nevada Health District is reporting the first West Nile virus death in Clark County.

The department reports the victim was a woman over the age of 50 and a Clark County resident. She also had previously stated she had a neuroinvasive illness.

"This case is a tragedy, and we want to remind the public that mosquitoes can pose serious health threats," said Dr. Michael Johnson, director of the Community Health Division for the Southern Nevada Health District.

In August, the Health District declared an outbreak of the West Nile virus in humans after the number of cases reached the highest count in a season since 2004 - the year the virus was first detected in the state.

Also, many of the reported cases had the more serious neuroinvasive form of the illness, according to the health department.

"Fortunately, there are steps people can take to protect themselves from mosquito bites throughout each season. I would encourage everyone to continue to use repellents whenever they are outdoors and to make sure they are eliminating standing water from around their homes," Dr. Johnson said.

The health district says the West Nile virus is preventable. The bite of an infected mosquito transmits the disease. The illness is not spread person to person.

Most people with the virus (eight out of 10) will have no symptoms or very mild symptoms of illness, according to the department.

About one in five 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 entirely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.

However, about one in 150 people who are infected develop a severe illness affecting the central nervous system. Recovery can take several weeks or months, and the effects on the central nervous system may be permanent.

Approximately one in 10 people who develop the neuroinvasive form of West Nile virus die from the illness.

The Health District has concluded its mosquito surveillance activities for the season.

As of Oct. 11, the agency had received reports of 43 cases of West Nile virus, with 34 cases having had the more serious neuroinvasive form of the illness.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported as of Oct. 15, a total of 46 states and the District of Columbia have reported West Nile virus infection in people, birds, or mosquitoes.

There have been 731 cases of West Nile virus disease reported to the CDC as of this date. Of those cases, 472 (65 percent) were classified as neuroinvasive disease.

More information is available on the Southern Nevada Health District's website here.