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West Nile requires precaution, not fear

West Nile’s here, so batten down the doors, close the shades, and hide under the bed, right?

No, says Larry Sage, the county’s director of environmental health.

“Take precautions not to get bit and not to raise mosquitoes, but go ahead and live as normal,” Sage said. “There are a lot of common things in our lives that are much more dangerous.”



But it seems Nevada County residents already know the basics, judging from the few calls Sage received in the day following the announcement.

“I’m guessing (the announcement) wasn’t very surprising,” Sage said. “Most any astute person would realize that it was all around (Nevada County).”




Sage expects to receive more calls next year, when the virus will hit humans the hardest, judging from its behavior in other areas. Last year was the first season of the infection in southern California – there were three cases.

This year, however, the virus has established a stronghold in Southern California’s mosquitos and birds, the natural reservoir of the virus. And the virus-full mosquitos have infected more than 200 humans.

In 2006, however, researchers expect the number of human cases to decrease because the birds most receptive to the virus will have already died.

That means next year is the big year for Nevada County, according to experts such as Sage.

But still the risk from the virus pales in comparison to the chances of having heart disease, cancer or a stroke – consistently the top three killers in the U.S.

With low odds of obtaining the virus, and even lower odds of becoming ill, West Nile is difficult to acquire.

Only one person out of 150 that are infected will become severely ill, according to Centers for Disease Control. One out of five people infected will get a mild flu-like illness that may include a headache, nausea, vomiting, rash, and eye pain.

Older folks, of whom Nevada County has plenty, are more susceptible to the disease – in this year’s California outbreak, half of the severe cases have been older than 59 years old.


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