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Laclede County Raises Awareness After Man Dies From West Nile

LACLEDE COUNTY, Mo. -- An elderly Lebanon man is the first person in Missouri to succumb to West Nile Virus this year.
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- An elderly Lebanon man is the first person in Missouri to succumb to West Nile Virus this year.

This is the third fatality from West Nile virus in the last three years in Laclede County.

With the warning the health department director is trying to get out to residents there.

Laclede County Health Department Director Charla Baker says the CDC is investigating this latest case as a probable case of West Nile.

Baker says obviously it is impossible to eliminate the mosquito population.

But, she says it is important that even those who aren't concerned about the virus themselves help protect the most vulnerable; the young, the elderly and the immune compromised.

Baker is working to arm the citizens she serves with mosquito repellent and knowledge.

Though this campaign was already in the works for a community event it's made all the more urgent by the June 9 death of an elderly Laclede County man.

"With this recent case it is determine as a probable West Nile Virus," says Baker.

Baker says even more concerning is the timeline.

"This is actually the third year in a row that we have investigated a death," she says.

West Nile first surfaced in the U.S. in 1999, in Laclede County in 2006; eight cases total, but the last three have been fatal.

"So that is concerning for us," says Baker.

Baker says not all mosquitoes have West Nile and not everyone infected with West Nile will even know.

"We may not even show in symptoms or very, very slight symptoms,” she says. “Young children, our elderly population and those that already have an immune symptom that is compromised; they most usually have other underlying health issues. They're more at risk for developing more severe symptoms that result in more medical care needed and unfortunately, in cases such as this we are working, can end in a fatality."

The CDC says there is no cure for West Nile, but people become immune to the warnings.

"We're not going to eliminate all of the mosquitoes,” says Baker. “But you can do many things personally and to your home and business that will help you eliminate the risk."

On a recent trip to Wickman Gardens, KOLR10 News learned of a number of products organic and chemical that can be used to keep mosquitoes away and mosquito larvae from hatching in standing water.

"I like this one better because it doesn't show up so much in your ponds but it's black and it will keep the mosquitoes from laying their eggs in there," said Becky Nicholas, Wickman Gardens Landscape Designer.

"There are a lot of things you can do, like mosquito bits that you put in your saucers so that way nothing will breed in them,” says Nicholas.

Baker says we have a duty to take care of the very old, the very young and the immune compromised.

"So please don't become lax just because you don't think it's going to affect you," says Baker.

According to the centers CDC, about 80 percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.

Those who do have flu like symptoms should see their doctors.

Baker says personal repellents should be worn, but it is important to research what doses and ingredients are safe particularly for children and the elderly.

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