Weather Forecast


Use care in the outdoors to avoid West Nile

Ten years ago, the West Nile virus made its first appearance in Minnesota, carried by the unofficial state mascot -- mosquitoes.

Earlier this month, the first human case of West Nile virus was confirmed in the state. A St. Louis County man developed West Nile encephalitis and meningitis in late May after traveling in south central Minnesota. This patient was hospitalized and is now recovering.

The mosquito-born infection has made minimal appearances in Minnesota, with single-digit case totals since 2009.

The most recent high infection year was 2007, when 101 cases were reported across the state. That year was also a hot, dry summer.

This year's wet spring followed by a hot, dry summer creates good conditions for the Culix tarsal mosquitoes, the species most likely to carry the West Nile virus.

The regions of western and central Minnesota also have the habitat that is preferred by the Culix tarsal species. ...

That means everyone needs to use precautions against mosquito exposure. Health officials recommend the use of mosquito repellants when going outdoors. They also recommend avoiding being outdoors at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus are most active.

A West Nile virus infection is a serious matter. Over the past decade, 465 cases of the virus disease have been identified in Minnesota, including 15 deaths. In 2011, 712 cases were reported nationally, with 45 resulting in deaths.

The peak infection period is here and runs through August. So use mosquito repellents containing DEET and avoid those dusk and dawn exposure periods. -- Worthington Daily Globe