Health Department Initiatives in Public Education, Surveillance and Response to WNV
Increasing public awareness of the need for mosquito control, ongoing surveillance of vulnerable populations and coordination of response to outbreaks offers the best chance of controlling this disease
The Environmental Health Division takes a lead role in county efforts to combat outbreaks of West Nile virus (WNV) by raising public awareness about the disease through education, helping to ensure surveillance of potentially infected humans, mammals and birds and controlling the spread of the disease. West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause mild illness (West Nile fever) or severe symptoms (encephalitis or meningitis) in humans and other animals bitten by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds that carry the virus in their blood. Currently, no vaccine against WNV is available so that mosquito abatement is one of the main tools that can be used to reduce the incidence of the disease. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites. WNV is now considered to be an endemic pathogen in many parts of the world including the United States.