The West Nile virus was detected at Fairchild Air Force Base last week, after sampling a mosquito trap site on the Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape Trail.
Members of the 92nd Aerospace Medicine Squadron gathered sample pools of mosquitoes on the south side of the base near one of the cedar trails. The diseased mosquito was found in that area. Mosquitoes become infected with the virus from a bird that carried it. Other mammals, like humans and horses, aren’t carriers of the disease.
“Members from 92nd Civil Engineer Squadron Entomology have inspected the site and will set up Solid State Army Miniature traps to monitor mosquito population numbers,” Tech Sgt. Mary Anne Viloria, Public Health Flight NCOIC said in a press release. “Areas of standing water will be treated with larvicide, which is mosquito population control.”
No human cases have been reported at the time of publication. The public health office on base is working with the state’s Department of Health to inform other municipalities about the virus.
“The West Nile virus is rare in this area, and a positive mosquito collection does not necessarily indicate people have or will contract the virus,” 92nd Medical Group commander Col. Robin Schultze said.
Base medical officials say the chances for human infection are minimal, and simple precautionary measures will help ensure safety. Among those include using insect repellant containing DEET when outdoors, in addition to repellant with picardidin and lemon eucalyptus oil. Dressing in longer clothing, weather permitting, will also increase prevention of bites.
According to the press release, 80 percent of patients bitten by mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus showed no symptoms. The other 20 percent may develop flu-like symptoms such as headaches, nausea, vomiting and an occasional rash. Less than 1 percent will develop more severe symptoms.
Symptoms generally develop between three and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito.
The last case of a mosquito trap in the region testing positive for West Nile virus was in Moses Lake in 2010. The virus has been detected in the continental United States with outbreaks occurring every summer since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.