Local News

Origin of Local West Nile Virus Remains Mystery

BEND, OR -- County officials may never know whether a Bend resident contracted West Nile Virus from a local mosquito. Heather Kaisner, with Deschutes County Public Health, was not surprised by the case confirmed last week. "We have always been concerned about the possibility of West Nile Virus hitting our county, and we did have a positive horse a couple weeks ago. So, there’s definitely high suspicion that it could’ve been in the mosquito population. We don’t know for sure because the case had also traveled outside of our state."


Kaisner tells KBND News the department worked with Vector Control in South County to test the local mosquito population for West Nile. "Vector Control has put out traps all summer long, and we haven’t had a single positive mosquito. And, as of last week, he says there’s just not enough mosquitoes to trap. So, we’re done trapping for the season. And, with this cold weather, I think we’re coming near the end of the mosquito season." But, she says it's never too late to make sure your property doesn't have standing water where mosquitoes can breed, next season. 


There could be more local cases of West Nile Virus, but Kaisner says many infected people don't know they have it. "When it comes to West Nile Virus, 80% of people don’t even show symptoms. So, you may have gotten it and never known and you’re fine. Similar to Zika – same thing, about 80% show no symptoms. And, less than 1% actually get really difficult symptoms such as paralysis, meningitis, things like that; but it’s very rare." She says West Nile is not passed from person to person. There is an equine vaccine because it can be much more dangerous for horses. 


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