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Do your part to prevent West Nile virus

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opinion Jamestown, 58401
Jamestown North Dakota 121 3rd St NW 58401

The West Nile virus is a reoccurring threat every summer, and people should take precautions against this potentially-fatal disease.

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North Dakota had the sixth highest rate of West Nile virus last year with 127 cases and two fatalities. The other top five states had a total of 1,259 cases, 44 of them fatal.

The national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says most people (70 to 80 percent) who become infected with the virus do not develop symptoms, while about one in five will develop flu-like symptoms or rashes. The fatigue caused by the disease can last for months after other symptoms have subsided. Less than 1 percent of infected people develop serious neurological illness that can lead to inflammation of the brain, spinal cord and surrounding tissues. The death rate of such an infection is 10 percent.

The CDC says the most effective way to avoid the virus is to avoid mosquito bites — by far the most common way the disease is spread. Wearing long sleeves, pants and socks and limiting outdoor activities from dusk to dawn will help prevent bites. When going outdoors, insect repellents should only be applied to exposed skin and clothing. Do not spray repellents into the face; instead spray on the hands and apply manually, avoiding the eyes and mouth.

Install window and door screens and cover all gaps to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home.

Mosquitoes lay eggs in water so removing any standing water will prevent them from hatching. Anything that can hold water can be a potential breeding ground. Water in bird baths and similar structures should be emptied and changed at least once a week. Garden ponds or similar bodies of water can be treated to kill eggs.

Dead birds may be a sign that virus is in the area, and should be reported to authorities. The CDC has found the West Nile virus in 390 species of birds.

With consistent rain soaking the Jamestown area over the past few weeks, standing water can be anywhere. The city will periodically spray for mosquitoes over the summer, but it is up to residents to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of West Nile virus.

(Editorials are the opinion of Jamestown Sun management and the newspaper’s editorial board)

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