West Nile virus scare not serious
July 29, 2004
Outdoorsmen and women should be aware of the recent confirmation of West Nile virus in the Carson City area. A dead crow was found in the Carson City area that tested positive for the disease.
Following that report, another followed that infected mosquitoes were found in Lyon County. The Nevada Department of Agriculture confirmed that tests conducted on mosquitoes collected from Fernley and Silver Springs tested positive.
With all of this publicity one could become extremely alarmed over the situation. Fortunately, the disease itself is not that serious. The virus can cause severe reactions in older people or in people with immune deficiencies. The average healthy person is at a very low risk.
The reason for all of the publicity is due to the fact that this is the first time a disease has been introduced to the United States where we have the media and the means to track its progress across the country. This media coverage has caused a considerable amount of alarm.
A good case in point was evident when I was in the Roseville Kaiser Permanente to pick up a prescription for my visiting mother. While standing in line I was looking at some of the items for sale as I approached the checkout counter. What struck my attention was the fact that one area had been soldout. Upon closer examination, I found that the empty rack had contained mosquito repellent.
Interesting statistics in a recent Reno Gazette-Journal article stated that 2.3 million people were exposed to West Nile virus last year. Of those, only 10,000 people contracted the disease, and of those, only 242 died or about one death per million exposures.
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The article also stated that 95 percent of those contracting the disease had not used insect repellent. Insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide, also known as, N,N-diethyl-3-mehylbenzamide) is recommended for use on adults and children over two years old by health experts.
No other ingredient has been found to be as effective as repellent containing DEET. The concentration of DEET varies in products which gives a person a longer period of coverage. Products such as Cutter or Off sell their repellent with varying levels of DEET. Check the label when in doubt.
I have found that using a product with at least 25 percent DEET gives me the protection I need while out in the prime mosquito hours during dawn and dusk fishing outings. I might add that mosquitoes must consider me filet mignon. They do love me.
DEET can do bad things to your fly line if you touch your line after applying the repellent. Make sure to take care if you are a flyfisher. I strongly recommend getting the repellent off by showering as soon as possible.
Using an insect repellent will allow you to continue your outdoor activities and give you some piece of mind as it relates to this new disease, West Nile virus. You do not have to stay indoors and avoid going out.
Bruce Ajari, a Truckee resident, is a regular fishing columnist for the Sierra Sun and other area newspapers.