Possible West Nile case

By Lesley Jenkins
Star Staff
ljenkins@starhq.com
Tests have been conducted for more than a week on a person from Sullivan County who is possibly infected with the West Nile virus. New tests analyzed by the state health department in Nashville returned Monday as indeterminate for the second time.
Additional tests are being sent to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Ga., to reveal the cause of the encephalitis that the individual suffered. The suspect is "at home and doing well," according to Mary Ellen Ress, a nurse for the Communicable Disease Department at Sullivan County Regional Health Department.
The blood tests are now being analyzed by the Atlanta CDC for other types of encephalitis, such as: Lacrosse, St. Louis, Eastern Equine and Western Equine encephalitis.
These types are found all over Tennessee. Lacrosse encephalitis mainly affects children. The victim can become very sick and can be deadly if it isn't treated promptly. The seriousness of St. Louis encephalitis becomes worse among older infected people.
Ress said the main thing to remember about becoming a victim to one of these viruses is prevention. All the viruses are caused by a mosquito carrying that specific virus. Prevention of being bitten by mosquitoes is the only way of protection against contracting the virus.
Encephalitis and the virus that it is associated with is not contagious between humans or animals other than mosquitoes.
Ress stated about human cases of West Nile virus, "There have not been any cases in Tennessee. Although there have been a lot of positive birds, but that is to be expected."
Tests were posted yesterday for a positive case of West Nile virus in a horse in Blount County. As of Aug. 12, only six horses in the state have tested positive and three have died out of 177 tested. Twenty counties report having positive cases of birds carrying the virus with 37 positive birds.
Small mammals, such as dogs and cats, do not usually become ill, but horses are highly susceptible to the virus. A newly licensed equine vaccine is available from many veterinarians if your horse is infected.
* Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, if possible, since this is the time of greatest mosquito activity.
* If you are outside when mosquitoes are prevalent, wear protective clothing such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and socks.
* Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET (the chemical N-N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) and follow the directions on the label.
* Eliminate any standing water that collects on your property.
* Fix any holes in your screens and make sure they are tightly attached.