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Take precautions against West Nile Virus
Sept. 3, 2012

By Kristen Miller
News Editor

Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) officials are warning residents in open agricultural areas, including Dassel-Cokato, to take extra precautions against West Nile Virus.

Dave Neitzel, MDH epidemiologist, said it’s prime time for mosquitoes that carry the West Nile Virus, specifically because this is when the mosquitoes with the virus move from feeding on birds to humans.

Though he couldn’t confirm any cases in Meeker or Wright counties, Neitzel advises people to take precautions by wearing bug spray, particularly at dusk and dawn. Mid-July to mid-September is prime time for the virus.

Currently, there are 35 reported cases of West Nile Virus in the state and one death that has resulted from the virus.

Neitzel noted that eight out of 10 people are able to fight off the virus themselves with no symptoms, or mild illness. One in 150 cases, however, become more severe, progressing to either encephalitis or meningitis mainly among the elderly.

Symptoms of West Nile are a bad headache, fever, and sometimes, a rash, he noted.

Since 2002, when the virus was first detected in Minnesota, the largest number of cases, 101, were reported in 2007.

“Since then, it’s been pretty quiet,” Neitzel said.

But this summer’s heat has contributed to a higher number of mosquitoes that carry the virus, and has also allowed the virus to grow more rapidly.

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