CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mosquitoes at three sites in Kanawha County have tested positive for the West Nile virus, county health officials said Thursday.
State officials have tested the insects at the National Guard base near Coonskin Park, an area of Greenbrier Street and in Marmet -- and all insects at all three sites tested positive, Anita Ray, the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department's director of environmental health, said at a meeting of the Kanawha-Charleston Board of Health.
No cases of West Nile virus in humans have been reported in West Virginia, but Ray said she would not be surprised if humans were to contract the illness.
Ray advised residents to avoid being outside at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active. She also said people should wear bug repellent and light-colored clothing.
Nationally, 2012 has seen the highest number of West Nile cases so far, said Janet Briscoe, the health department's director of epidemiology and emergency preparedness.
Dallas, Texas, recently issued a state of emergency to combat the virus, Briscoe said. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported close to 700 cases of West Nile nationally. Half of those cases have been reported in Texas, Briscoe said.
According to the CDC, about one in 150 people infected with the virus will develop serious symptoms, which can include paralysis, convulsions, loss of vision, numbness and high fever. On the other head, four out of every five people infected with the virus will not show any symptoms at all.
Also at Thursday's health board meeting, Dr. Rahul Gupta, executive director, told the board the health department would be allowed to apply directly to the state Bureau for Public Health for an infrastructure grant from the CDC.
The state Ethics Commission recently ruled that members of West Virginia Local Health Inc., a nonprofit association made up of health department employees, violated the state's Ethics Act by awarding federal grant money to their employers.