Countyís West Nile case probably not homegrown
By Benjamin Graham, Jackson Hole, Wyo.
August 25, 2012
A Jackson Hole man with West Nile virus probably didn’t contract the disease in Teton County, health officials said Friday.
The man travels often, they said.
“The person that has West Nile is a resident of Teton County but had extensive travel outside of Teton County just before he got sick,” Teton County Health Manager Terri Gregory said. “The state decided that it’s not a Teton County-acquired case, even though he is a resident.”
The disease is spread by mosquito bites and is often carried by birds; it is occasionally fatal. The Jackson Hole man was sent home after being treated at St. John’s Medical Center.
The Wyoming Department of Health said this is the first case ever in Teton County; the United States Geological Sur-
vey reported a single case here in 2010.
The health department confirmed that the patient had been out of the county in the weeks before being diagnosed, but did not know where he contracted the virus.
“It does not appear as though that person was infected where he lived,” said Kim Deti, spokeswoman for the department.
According to a press release from the Teton County Weed and Pest Control District, 76 mosquitoes in the area have been tested for West Nile this summer, but all results turned up negative.
While the virus has yet to reach Jackson Hole, other parts of the country have faced a record year for West Nile infections.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported 1,118 infections and 41 deaths in the U.S. through Tuesday, with most cases occurring in southern states.
The Teton County resident is the second person from Wyoming to come down with the disease this year. The state’s first case, a man from Crook County, was reported Monday.
Despite the outlook nationwide for this West Nile season, Gregory said Teton County residents needn’t worry.
“In terms of other people getting West Nile, it’s not a threat with just one case at this point,” Gregory said. “It probably would have been a different story if he had actually acquired it here in our county, but he didn’t.”
Still, Teton County Weed and Pest Control District is asking residents to help keep tabs on the disease by reporting unusually dense mosquito populations. Another warning sign is dead or infected birds. The district can be reached at 733-1896.
Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, swollen lymph nodes, muscle aches, fatigue and eye pain.
Three human cases were reported in Wyoming in 2011. In 2010, there were six cases, and in 2009, there were 12 cases and one death. The worst year for the virus in Wyoming occurred in 2003, when there were 393 cases and nine deaths.