WEBSTER GROVES, MO. (KPLR) - St. Louis County has reported its first human case of West Nile Virus this summer. A 55-year old Kirkwood woman tested positive but had recovered from the illness, a health department spokesman said.
There have now been two human cases in the St. Louis area this summer; the other in St. Charles County in July. Neither was fatal.
St. Louis County Vector Control is stepping up efforts to track the disease and wipe out the mosquitoes that spread it.
There are now 5 trucks spraying for mosquitoes county-wide, instead of 4.
'We`ve added a morning shift to that just to help supplement areas where we`re finding high mosquito counts or positive West Nile Virus,' said Drew Hane of St. Louis County Vector Control.
'We`re at about 9.5% of the mosquitoes that we`re testing in the month of August are coming back positive for west Nile virus. Last year it was 5%...typically we see it run through at least mid-September. This year, who knows, we could be out spraying through Halloween.'
He said mosquito trapping determined where the sprayers went.
There are 230 trap sites in St. Louis County; with about a dozen baited and monitored, 5-days-a-weeks.
'We`ve got a special concoction we lovingly call stink bait, that attracts in the female mosquito,' Hane said.
The mixture of water and chicken manure in the bait lures the mosquitoes into a net.
St. Louis County Vector Control then sends them to a lab at Southeast Missouri State University for West Nile testing.
'A lot more people are starting to spend time outdoors, it`s starting to cool off a little bit. So that`s when we have that higher probability of transmission between mosquito and human. That`s what we`re trying to cut down,' Hane said.
People were certainly aware of the threat at soccer practice in Webster Groves, Tuesday night.
Parents were recommending private spraying companies that go house to house.
'It`s real,' Debbie Dinzebach said of the threat. 'I know there are serious side effects especially for people who are very compromised. So I`m spraying, using the DEET.'
Hane recommended repellants with 25%-30% DEET content to ward of mosquitoes.
Dinzebach said mosquitoes had been especially tough on her, this summer.
'Terrible; really, really bad; can`t even put my dogs outside without getting ravaged by mosquitoes,' she said.
'We`re finding West Nile Virus all over the county in mosquito populations...more mosquitoes show positive for West Nile Virus in August and September than throughout the rest of the year,' Hane said.
Of the 8 human West Nile cases in Missouri in 2012, only 1 was fatal; in Laclede County, which is closer to Springfield.
There have been 19 human cases reported in Illinois; none in the St. Louis area; one of them fatal.
Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, even Michigan, have all reported at least two deaths; Texas the worst, by far, with 30.