West Nile Virus map Idaho H&W

This map shows the 13 counties in Idaho in which West Nile Virus has been detected thus far in 2021. The Idaho Department of Health & Welfare warned Wednesday that this year is a bad one for the virus in the state, with six human cases and one death so far.

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This is a bad year for West Nile Virus, all over the state, the Idaho Department of Health & Welfare warns, with one death reported so far in Ada County in August, six human infections total statewide so far, and detections of the virus in 13 counties.

“The conditions are right for mosquitoes to transmit the virus now until a killing frost eliminates the mosquito populations,” Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, Idaho state public health veterinarian in the department’s Division of Public Health, said in a news release Wednesday. “Idahoans should assume that WNV is a risk anytime and anywhere mosquitoes are active.”

The virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquitoes, not from person to person. It also affects horses and some species of birds; there’s a vaccine for West Nile Virus in horses, but not in people.

Last year at this time, just one human West Nile Virus case had been reported in Idaho.

“We strongly encourage Idahoans to ‘Fight the Bite’ of mosquitoes to protect themselves and their families, no matter where they live in the state,” Tengelsen said. “This includes wearing insect repellent and protective clothing in addition to reducing standing water around our gardens and homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs.”

You can read my full story here at idahopress.com (subscription required), or pick up Thursday's Idaho Press.

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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