Wednesday, July 1, 2009 | 10:05 a.m.
Clark County's first probable human case of West Nile virus this year is being reported this morning, Southern Nevada Health District officials said.
The patient, a 61-year-old woman, contracted West Nile fever, a mild form of the illness.
The Clark County case is considered probable because testing to confirm cases of West Nile virus can take months to complete.
West Nile virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes, which get the virus by feeding on infected birds. The illness is not spread from person to person.
In 2008 Nevada reported a total of 16 human cases of West Nile virus, according to the Nevada Division of Health.
In a parallel program to surveying human cases, the health district reported West Nile virus in a cluster of mosquitoes in the 89119 Zip code, which is north of McCarran International Airport, west of Eastern Avenue and south of Tropicana Avenue.
The health district's environmental health specialists routinely survey and treat known breeding sources for mosquitoes and trap them for identification throughout the Las Vegas Valley. In addition, the insects are tested for West Nile virus, Western equine encephalitis and St. Louis encephalitis.
People can protect themselves from mosquito bites by applying insect repellent before going outside, especially around dawn or dusk. Repellents containing DEET work best as well as those containing picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus. However, DEET is the most effective repellent available, health officials said.
When outdoors, wear pants and long-sleeved shirts and eliminate standing water, including bird baths, "green" swimming pools and sprinkler runoff, which help mosquitoes breeding.
To report mosquito activity, stagnant swimming pools or stagnant water sources, call the mosquito control hot line at 759-1220.