Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012 | 12:13 p.m.
Mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus have surfaced in the Las Vegas Valley for the first time this summer, prompting health officials to remind residents to take precautions against contracting the disease.
Southern Nevada Health District specialists the tracked the West Nile-positive mosquitoes from two separate swimming pools in the 89107 ZIP code, said Devin Barrett, a senior disease investigator. The ZIP code covers an area west of downtown, roughly from Rainbow Boulevard on the west to Rancho Drive on the east and from Cheyenne Avenue on the north to Charleston Boulevard on the south.
The discovery mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus will likely be found elsewhere in the valley, said Stephanie Bethel, public information officer for the health district, and people throughout the valley need to take precautions.
Among the steps people can take to ward off the virus are:
• Using insect repellant that contains the active ingredient DEET.
• Eliminating sources of standing water, such as unmaintained "green" swimming pools, which mosquitoes may use as breeding grounds. Residents can now report green swimming pools and standing or stagnant water sources to local code enforcement agencies.
• Wearing pants and long-sleeved shirts outdoors to avoid getting bitten.
• Spending less time outside at dawn and dusk, when the mosquitoes are most active.
About 70 to 80 percent of people infected with the West Nile virus report no symptoms or flu-like conditions, like mild fever or headache, Barrett said. About 10 percent of those infected may face a more severe form of the virus, where it enters the brain or spinal cord and can cause meningitis, paralysis or death.
Cats and dogs typically display mild or no symptoms from the virus, she added. However, horses are at risk of an equine-related virus and should be vaccinated.
More than 1,100 cases and 40 deaths related to the virus have been reported this year in the United States, half of which are in Texas, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So far, no human cases of the West Nile virus have been reported in Clark County, the release said. Eleven cases were reported in the county in 2011, none in 2010. There was one West Nile-related fatality in Clark County in 2011, Barrett said.
The West Nile virus is spread by the bite of mosquitoes that feed on infected birds. It cannot be spread from person to person.