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‘The kids are getting bit’: Clark County has set an unpleasant health-related record

Updated June 11, 2024 - 2:26 pm

The Southern Nevada Health District on Monday reported the highest level of mosquito activity in the program’s history this early in a season.

According to a news release, as of Thursday, 91 mosquito pools — comprising 3,081 mosquitoes from 16 ZIP codes — have tested positive for West Nile virus.

Health officials also advised that two mosquito pools, comprising 46 mosquitoes from two ZIP codes, have tested positive for the virus that causes St. Louis encephalitis.

Residents in one of the ZIP codes, 89032 in North Las Vegas, reported experiencing attacks from mosquitoes.

“We’ve been bitten a lot of times,” said Juan Perez, 18, pointing to his leg. “My vision’s getting blurry. I feel all of the bites on me. It just gets annoying and you get a whole lot of new bites and it gets itchy.”

Perez, who said the insects always bite inside, not outside, his home, initially thought that they came from his family’s swimming pool. But he doubts that now because they have the pool cleaned weekly.

Kelly Slisz, 60, who lives with her two adult daughters and three grandchildren, said one of her daughters and two grandkids were bitten recently, prompting her to break out the calamine anti-itch lotion to treat them.

“I don’t get bit. The kids are getting bit,” Slisz said. “They (the insects) were in the house. It’s not that I’ve seen a lot of them.”

Slisz added that she was worried about her daughters and grandchildren becoming ill if mosquitoes on her block test positive for a virus.

She added that it’s nothing new, because when they lived on East St. Louis Avenue in central Las Vegas before moving to North Las Vegas in April, they “always had mosquitoes” and children in her neighborhood were getting sick from them.

One of Slisz’s neighbors, Jackie Gomez, 33, said her kids had been only bitten once or twice, so “I’m not worried. It’s not too bad.”

Other neighbors said they had not yet noticed any mosquitoes.

‘Not typical vectors’ for West Nile virus

The health district says that its mosquito surveillance program has also received an increased number of complaints from the public about mosquito activity.

“Increased awareness and reporting of mosquito activity are attributed to the expansion of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes throughout the region,” the agency stated in the release.

According to the health district, “Aedes aegypti mosquitoes are known to be aggressive daytime biters that prefer feeding on people instead of birds and are not typical vectors for West Nile virus.”

The first one tested positive for the virus in Clark County in 2017, the district said.

Additionally, health officials said that mosquitoes testing positive for the St. Louis encephalitis virus were last reported in Clark County in 2019 with the last reported cases in humans in 2016. St. Louis encephalitis virus is spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

The news release noted that most people infected with the virus will not develop symptoms. However, the health district said people who become ill may develop fever, headache, nausea, vomiting and fatigue.

“Some people may develop a neuroinvasive form of the disease that causes encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord),” the release added.

For more information on the health district’s seasonal mosquito surveillance reports, go to www.southernnevadahealthdistrict.org/programs/mosquito-surveillance/arbovirus-update.

A previous version of this story misstated when the first mosquito in Clark County tested positive for West Nile virus.

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