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West Nile confirmed in Atmore

By By STAFF REPORTS
A dead owl found in the Atmore area was sent to a lab this week and on Tuesday it was confirmed to be infected with the West Nile Virus.
The test marks the second confirmation of the West Nile Virus within Escambia County. The first came from a dead owl found in the Brewton area late last month.
Neighboring counties, including Conecuh, Covington, Monroe and Baldwin, have already found evidence of the virus.
Human cases of the virus have been found in Dale, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa and Houston counties.
Buck Farrior, Escambia County extension agent, said residents of Escambia County should consider this a warning to protect themselves.
"People need to consider this a reason to take extra measures to avoid mosquitoes," Farrior said. "People need to clean up sitting water around their yards, wear long-sleeved shirts and pants, repair screens and caulk to keep mosquitoes out of the house and make sure they use DEET-based repellents when they go outside for a period of time."
He said the confirmation of West Nile Virus in Escambia was not surprising.
"It was something we pretty much knew. We were the only county in this area that had not confirmed it.
"It does not change the situation. It just gives us additional reason to take precautions," he said.
Routine mosquito spraying has been underway in Brewton and Atmore, but Farrior said all homeowners can make their homes safe.
"The most efficient way to get rid of mosquitoes is to reduce their habitat. City and county officials can only do so much. Home owners should do their part by getting rid of things that attract mosquitoes."
One of the most important preventive measures is to reduce standing water.
"These fishing ponds are not the biggest problem," he said. "The biggest problem is with smaller pools of standing water."
The ADPH reports that to date there have been four confirmed cases and another probable case of West Nile virus in humans in Alabama in 2002. There also are now 252 birds, 45 pools of mosquitoes, and six horses reported positive for West Nile virus from 42 of Alabama's 67 counties.
These counts far exceed the level of virus activity reported in 2001, when 59 positive birds in 13 counties were detected, and none earlier than the end of August. In 2001 Alabama experienced two human cases of West Nile virus infection, one of which was fatal.
The majority of persons infected with WNV do not suffer any symptoms, while approximately 20 percent have a mild, flu-like illness. About 1 in 150 infected individuals suffer serious symptoms.
Personal protection: Clothing and aromatics
Personal protection: Repellents
Personal protection: Around the home