The infections were found among two residents in Owyhee County, which runs along the state’s southwest border. Both residents were over 50 years old. One had a diagnosis for West Nile fever and the other case was discovered through blood donor screening, per a news release from the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.
“The detection of West Nile virus-positive mosquitoes has increased significantly during the last few weeks and we strongly encourage Idahoans to fight the bite of mosquitoes to protect themselves and their families,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, the state public health veterinarian, said in the news release.
“Confirmation of human infection makes it increasingly important for all of us to take protective measures,” she said.
Tengelsen suggested that people wear insect repellent and protective clothing and expel standing water around gardens and homes where mosquitoes can lay eggs.
West Nile virus activity was detected in six southwest counties in Idaho so far this year. In 2019, there were 13 human West Nile infections reported across the state.
“The impact WNV has from year-to-year is difficult to predict. In 2006, Idaho had more WNV illnesses than any other state, with almost 1,000 infections and 23 deaths,” officials wrote in the news release.
Symptoms of the infection can include fever, headache, body ache and nausea. West Nile virus infections may develop into a severe illness, with those over 50 particularly susceptible.
Click here for health guidance on the West Nile virus from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).