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September 20, 2012 | 12:00 a.m. CST
Bust out the insect repellent
Columbia; mosquito-borne West Nile Virus is on the rise. This summer has been the worst season for the illness, with 2,636 cases reported nationwide as of mid-September.
The Show-Me ‘Squito
As of Sept. 11, Missouri has had nine reported cases of the virus with one illness in Randolph County, about 40 miles north of Columbia. Genalee Alexander, public information specialist for Columbia/Boone County Departments of Public Health and Human Services, says the last Columbian case of West Nile was reported in 2007.
Out of Africa
West Nile was first isolated in Uganda in 1937 but didn’t claim its first victim in the U.S. until 1999. More than 30,000 people in America have contracted the virus. Of those, 13,000 have gotten seriously sick and more than 1,200 have died.
Symptoms that really bite
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 80 percent of people who contract the virus are carriers who show no symptoms. The rest might experience flu-like symptoms for a few days or several weeks. Only about one in 150 individuals infected will experience serious symptoms, which can range from a high fever and disorientation to coma, vision loss and paralysis.
Friday morning spraydown
The Columbia/Boone County Departments of Public Health and Human Services sprays the MKT and other trails for mosquitoes on Fridays between 4 and 8 a.m. with EPA-approved Anvil 2 Plus 2 pesticide. If a human case of West Nile Virus is reported in Columbia, the quarter-mile perimeter around that person’s residence will be sprayed.
Don’t let down your guard
Alexander recommends several ways to stay protected. Make sure windows and doors have screens intact to protect the house from pesky intruders. Using insect repellent, such as the wipes offered for free by the department, can act as a personal bodyguard against bites.
Eliminating standing water can help curb mosquito breeding. Alexander says mosquito dunks, submergible tablets of larvicide, prevent mosquitoes from breeding in places like birdbaths and are available from the city health department. Call 874-7346 or visit the department on Twitter or Facebook for more information.
View West Nile Cases in Missouri in a larger map
Check out the Missourian graphic about the areas that have reported cases of mosquito-borne illness.