'West Nile' Cases Rare in Kentucky

Aug 23, 2012

A major outbreak of West Nile virus, so far, has skipped the Commonwealth.  Texas, meanwhile,  has been impacted significantly.   Since August, the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture reports four cases of West Nile virus in horses and one confirmed case in a resident of Henry County.  West Nile is spread by mosquitoes.   So far, Martin Evans, who’s a professor of Infectious Diseases at UK, says Kentucky has been lucky.

“There are also cases in Mississippi, another area that might be on the wet side.  Louisiana I mentioned.  But, there are also cases in Oklahoma and in South Dakato which you wouldn’t think would be all that good setting for mosquito populations,” said Evans

Fayette County Health Department Environmentalist Luke Mathias says reports on mosquitoes are up.  But, he’s not sure if the actual number of mosquitoes has increased significantly, or if concerns about West Nile have led to the spike in calls.  Evans  says most people bitten by an infected mosquito suffer no serious complications….

“80 percent of people who are bitten by mosquitoes don’t have any clinical illness at all, they’re infected but they don’t feel it.  And then you have another 20 percent who have mild flu like illnesses and then maybe one out of 150 individuals who are infected actually develop the severe illness with what we call neuro invasive disease,” added Evans.

As for horses, the director of UK’s Diagnostic Lab says it’s a risky time of year for West Nile virus.  Craig Carter adds vaccinations are imperfect, but can often prevent or at least mitigate the illness in horses.