West Nile is a virus carried by mosquitos. It was first detected in the U.S. in 1999, and has since spread to 45 states. Oregon’s efforts — like getting rid of places where mosquitoes breed — have driven infection rates down since the mid 2000s.
But this year there were five cases in humans, in Harney, Deschutes and Malheur counties. There were also four cases in horses and about 80 mosquitos found carrying the disease.
Harney County Judge Pete Runnels said he’s going to bring up the issue at his next public health meeting.
Jolene Cawfield with the Harney County Health Department said, “This is not a constant problem but one that occurs occasionally.”
Most people infected with West Nile don’t feel sick. But one in five develop a fever and one in every 150 suffer a serious, sometimes fatal, illness.
People can reduce their risk of catching the virus by using insect repellent and wearing long sleeved shirts and pants.