MADISONVILLE, Ky. (9/4/13) – The death of a Hopkins County man has been attributed to complications from the West Nile virus, according to health officials, as well as the death of a horse from within the county.
While the identity of the man has not been released, the results of tests were confirmed by Center for Disease Control officials Thursday, according to Denise Beach, director of the Hopkins County Health Department.
Beach said the man had been hospitalized in an out-of-the-county hospital but was transferred to a Hopkins County long-term facility, where he succumbed to the illness.
While the West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquito bites, it is very rare for a person to die from the infection, said Beach.
Beach said many people infected with the virus may never know it. Only one percent of those infected will have serious complications, she said.
When symptoms do occur, they may include fever, body aches, diarrhea, headache or rashes but most people recover in about a week.
Beach said the best approach for area residents is to be cautious and educated about the virus.
"I live here, too," she said. "However, I'm not going to be afraid to go outside. But we do need to be cautious and know what to look for."
Bird baths and other containers that can hold standing water should be emptied, said Beach.
"Any kind of standing water breeds mosquitoes," she said. "If people do have to be out between dusk and dawn, they should wear insect repellant according to the product's instructions and keep covered up if possible."
Beach said when deaths occur in humans, there are usually other health complications present.
Because the man that died was a Hopkins County resident, the local heath department must investigate. Through the investigation, Beach learned through the state Department of Agriculture that a horse in Hopkins County has died from West Nile. An animal death from West Nile does not have to be reported to the health department but Beach made the inquiry as part of her investigation.
Beach said that the first cases of West Nile in the U.S. were discovered in 1999 and that the virus has been reported in each of the 48 continental states since then.
Certain symptoms such as a high fever, stiff neck and sensitivity to light should be reported to a health care professional whether or not West Nile virus is suspected.
The City of Madisonville is planning a citywide mosquito treatment Tuesday, Sept. 10. See http://surfky.com/index.php/news/local/hopkins/37239-madisonville-mosquito-treatment-planned
According to the CDC website, the Hopkins County case is the first in Kentucky for the year with statistics last updated Sept. 3.
Information on the CDC web site says that the virus is most commonly spread by mosquitoes that have fed on infected birds.
Rita Dukes Smith
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