West Nile virus confirmed by state lab test

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Barry County Health Department received confirmation from the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services that a bird collected in Barry County had tested positive for the West Nile virus.

Kathleen King, local health department director, said this was the only bird submitted for testing so far this year and the county's first positive test of 2006.

"This is nothing for people to be alarmed about," said King. "We know it's here and we are advising people to make sure they are eliminating mosquito-breeding habitat on their property."

The West Nile virus is transmitted when mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. These infected mosquitoes can then transmit the West Nile virus to humans and animals.

To reduce the risk of exposure to the West Nile virus, the state health department has issued the following guidelines:

• Stay indoors at dawn, dusk or in the early evening when mosquitoes are usually more prevalent.

• Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.

• Spay clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET.

• Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. An effective repellent will contain 35 percent DEET.

• Eliminate standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

• Get rid of tires, buckets and other water-holding objects.

• Clean bird baths and change the water at least once a week.

• Clean and chlorinate swimming pools or drain and cover if not in use.

• Unclog gutters and down spouts.

• Make sure screens fit tightly on doors and windows.

King shared the news about the positive West Nile test during an Aug. 11 health department board meeting, which was attended by board members John Starchman, Pauline Gage and Dennis Baker.

In addition to accepting King's report, the board conducted thefollowing items of business:

• Reviewed audit results, which revealed the Barry County Health Department was in good financial condition. The only concern noted in the audit dealt with segregation of duties regarding internal control of accounting. According to King, this concern is commonly included in the audit report and is due to the fact that the department operates with a small office staff. "By and large, we are doing a nice job," said Starchman.

• Approved the Regional Emergency Preparedness Contract for fiscal year 2007.

• Accepted the monthly service fees report, which indicated service fees during the month of July were $3,426, which is $285 more than the previous July.

• Reviewed the department's monthly services report. In July, the health department office in Cassville provided services to 1,030 clients and the Monett office served 517 clients.

• Approved a holiday luncheon for staff members on Dec. 19 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The office will be closed to the public during those hours.

• Voted to close health department offices on Dec. 26 to give staff a four-day Christmas holiday.

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