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This species of mosquito is important in the West Nile Virus transmission cycle. (CDC photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Kentucky has seen its first death due to West Nile virus in at least three years, according to Louisville Metro Health and Wellness, with two other positive cases reported in Jefferson County.

In 2021, there were three human cases and no deaths in Louisville, according to the agency. In 2020, there were no human cases or deaths.  The last death was in 2019. As of Sept. 12, no other confirmed cases of West Nile have been reported anywhere else in the state, officials with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services told Kentucky Today. 

Louisville Metro Health and Wellness (LMPHW) says mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus are not unusual for this time of year, and that they are continuing to find mosquitoes with West Nile virus in several locations around Jefferson County.

In most instances, people infected with West Nile virus either show no symptoms or relatively mild symptoms. However, less than 1% of infected people develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. People over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease. Those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and people who have received organ transplants are also at greater risk for serious illness. 

 “We urge people to protect themselves from mosquito bites and West Nile virus,” said Connie Mendel, senior deputy director at LMPHW.

Those streps include:

--Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.  Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535 and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.  To optimize safety and effectiveness, repellents should be used according to the label instructions.

--Wear long sleeves, long pants and socks when outdoors.  Mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing, so spraying clothes with repellent containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent will give extra protection.  Don't apply repellents containing permethrin directly to skin.  Do not spray repellent on the skin under your clothing.

--Take extra care during the peak mosquito biting hours of early morning and dusk.  Be sure to use repellent and wear protective clothing from dusk to dawn or consider avoiding outdoor activities during these times.

--Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitos outside.