West Nile virus is for the birds - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

West Nile virus is for the birds

Be sure to use bug spray when you are outside. Be sure to use bug spray when you are outside.

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Across the country this is one of the worst years for the West Nile virus and Kentuckiana is not immune.

The Metro Health Department confirms the first human case of the virus in Louisville this year. The victim is recovering. The city has had one human West Nile case each year for the past three years.

If you said that the West Nile virus is for the birds, you would be right.

"West Nile is an interesting disease in that the disease is actually harbored in birds," said Ben Powell with the Clemson Extension of Natural Resources.

Researchers said it is birds that are actually the source of West Nile. Think of mosquitoes then as the pesky messengers.

"Mosquitoes have to go bite a bird and then come bite a human to transfer the disease between the two," Powell said.

That actually happens often, and while it may have been a dry summer, Kentuckiana weather actually did not help matters.

"This year is a peculiar year because we had an early spring, things got warm early, and it didn't mean there's more mosquitoes, it just meant mosquitoes and other insects got started early," Powell said.

While shorter days and cooler weather last week may have given a feeling of fall, we are actually right in the peak of West Nile, but you can still stay safe.

"Dawn and dusk are the most important times to kind of watch out, make sure you're not in contact with mosquitoes. Wear long sleeves, long pants," said Dr. Tanja McKay.

Insect repellent is also a must - one with at least 10% DEET for adults, but no more than 10% for children. Officials also said to avoid standing water, something that is difficult to do with the Ohio River streaming right through Kentuckiana.

"My kids are mosquito magnets. They are getting outside constantly and we do use a lot of bug spray," said Louisville parent Lauren Murphy.

"I bug spray all the time. We live down on the river. Mosquitoes are pretty fierce over there so we lube them up with bug spray all the time, but I'm very concerned about it," said Louisville parent Geoff Schutz.

West Nile virus symptoms

The more south you go, the more cases there have been reported.

Experts in the south are worried that a storm named Isaac currently churning near Florida could leave a lot of standing water in its path, making the perfect storm of standing water for mosquitoes to breed.

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