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Risk of West Nile Virus decreasing as summer comes to an end

According to the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, 13 cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in 2015. So far, four have been confirmed by lab results and three cases have resulted in fatalities.

Six cases have been reported in Saint Louis County and three in the city of Saint Louis. One death has been reported in each location.

The third was reported in Pettis County. Each person was over the age of 60.

“The people who have the most trouble with it usually are over age 50,” said Dr. Michael Cooperstock, an infectious disease doctor at MU Healthcare. “Children almost never have severe illness with it ever.”

Cooperstock said most people will have the virus and never know it. He explained most people have mild symptoms such as fever, aches and loss of appetite. He said more serious illnesses and even death from West Nile Virus is rare.

The last reported case of the disease in Boone County was in 2007. Seven people were infected, but no one died.

In 2011, Columbia/Boone County Health Department and Human Services began spraying for mosquitoes weekly along areas such as the MKT and Grindstone Trail.

“They tend to have a lot more water and we know that standing water and low-lying areas can be a breeding ground for mosquitoes,” said Andrea Waner, PIO for the health department. “We go during when the mosquitoes are most active between dawn and dusk.”

Waner said people should wear insect repellent when outside during the active hour for mosquitoes. She also said people should make sure there is no standing water near their homes like in empty flower pots, bird baths and pool covers.

Waner explained the mosquito spraying starts in either late May or early June depending on the weather and will last through September.

Dr. Cooperstock said the risk of West Nile Virus is decreased significantly by this time of the year. He also said that while one area may have a small outbreak, it’s unlikely the disease will spread.

“It’s not really that geographically localized generally,” he said. “It’s more likely just to pop up here and there without it being a major epidemic all in one sight anymore.”

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