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West Nile Virus

West Nile can be a serious threat to human and animal health. The most serious effect of West Nile is fatal encephalitis, which is an inflammation of the brain, in humans and horses. West Nile also kills certain species of domestic and wild birds.

Symptoms Mosquito
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Symptoms of West Nile
Most often if you are exposed to the West Nile virus, you will not show any symptoms.

Symptoms of a mild infection: fever, headache, body aches, and swollen lymph glands.

Symptoms of a severe infection: high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and coma.

Contact your health care provider if you have any of these symptoms. If severe symptoms develop, see your doctor immediately.


Three ways to reduce your West Nile virus risk:

  1. Avoid mosquito bites
  2. Mosquito-proof your home
  3. Help your community target places where mosquitoes breed

Avoid mosquito bites

Mosquito proof your home

Help your community

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The Health Department does not test mosquitoes for West Nile Virus. Testing over the last several years has confirmed the prescence of the virus in our region each year, thus it is safe to assume that local mosquitoes could carry the virus.

To help prevent mosquitoes from breeding, the Health Department can apply a larvacide to certain small bodies of water, including abandoned pools, storm drains and catch basins. For information about larvacide, please call 859.341.4151.

Human cases of West Nile virus are required to be investigated by the Health Department; however, testing is done by local health care providers. No human cases have been reported to date in 2015.

West Nile virus was first isolated from a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. The virus was recognized as a cause of severe human meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the spinal cord and brain) in elderly patients during an outbreak in Israel in 1957. The disease was first noted in horses in Egypt and France in the early 1960s. West Nile virus first appeared in North America in 1999, with encephalitis reported in humans and horses. The subsequent spread in the United States is an important milestone in the evolving history of this virus.

More information
CDC's West Nile virus background and distribution
West Nile in Horses, U.S. Department of Agriculture
Kentucky Department for Public Health: West Nile page
United States Geological Survey