09/24/06 — SJAFB investigates West Nile finding

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SJAFB investigates West Nile finding

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on September 24, 2006 2:08 AM

Mosquitoes taken from three breeding areas at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base are believed to be carriers for the West Nile virus, a state expert said Friday.

Dr. Nolan Newton, section chief of the North Carolina Public Health Pest Management office, said state officials received preliminary reports Thursday that three groups of common woodland mosquitoes tested positive for the West Nile virus.

Test samples were taken to the state's public health laboratory for a preliminary process Friday and the confirmation tests could be conducted Monday. If the tests are conducted Monday, Newton said results could be ready by Tuesday.

Seymour Johnson officials began investigating the finding Friday and were expected to continue looking into the situation through the weekend.

Birds, typically crows in this region, serve as reservoirs for the West Nile virus. Birds transmit the virus to mosquitoes, which can then infect horses and people, veterinarian Dr. George Silver said.

West Nile attacks a victim's immune system and therefore is more common in children, whose immune systems are still developing, and senior citizens, who have less ability to fight off disease, Dr. Silver said.

West Nile symptoms normally occur five to 15 days after infection and can include fever, headache and body aches, according to the N.C. Pest Management office. Skin rashes and swollen lymph glands can also be symptoms of West Nile.

In more severe cases, disorientation, coma, tremors and paralysis can occur, according to the pest management office. There is no vaccine for West Nile virus. Instead, doctors must treat the virus' symptoms and the patient's immune system must gain enough strength for the body to recover.

During the past two weeks, mosquitoes have become more of a problem throughout eastern North Carolina, Newton said. In Goldsboro, City Manager Joe Huffman said the city has received more calls in the past week concerning mosquitoes than in the past two years.

As the temperature continues to drop below 55 degrees, Newton said mosquito activity should decline. Until then, residents need to take preventive measures against mosquito bites.

Residents should work together as a neighborhood to prevent mosquitoes from breeding on their property, Newton said.

"It only takes a small amount of standing water for mosquitoes to breed," he said.

Anything from a cup of water to an old tire collecting water could be a breeding ground for mosquitoes. Mosquitoes can also breed in bird baths, gutters, tire swings and flower pots, Wayne County Health Education Supervisor Carolyn King said. Other trash in a yard could also hold water and house mosquitoes, Newton said.

Although mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, Mrs. King said people should protect themselves with repellent when outside. If possible, residents should also wear light-colored clothes with long sleeves and pants during the day, Mrs. King said.

The most effective insect repellent contains DEET. DEET is an abbreviation for metadiethyl toluamide, which is an insect-repellent chemical that protects against tick and mosquito bites, which can cause Lyme disease, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and malaria.

For more information on mosquito protection, call the Wayne County Environmen-tal Health Department at 731-1174.