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Jr. Zebra recovering from West Nile disease

Players advised to spray themselves before practice
By: Patty McAlpin Special to The News Messenger
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The family of an 8-year-old Jr. Zebras football player does not know exactly where their son contracted West Nile disease but they aren’t going to let that keep him from playing football once he recovers. Carson Kent’s mother and father are unsure of where he was bit by a mosquito carrying the West Nile disease West Nile disease, except that it was somewhere in Placer County. His mother, Shanna Kent, said her son has been sick for 15 days. He was released from Kaiser Roseville Monday night and is expected to make a full recovery. She said doctors confirmed Carson had the disease after administering a spinal fluid test. “My son was a healthy athlete,” Shanna Kent said. “I’d like to tell other parents to put bug spray on their children. It did happen to my child but I am not panicking. It could happen anywhere.” Placer County Director of Community Health Dr. Mark Starr said there have been two human confirmed cases of West Nile virus in Placer County this year, an adult and a child. One is from Roseville. The other is from Lincoln. For privacy issues, Starr would not name the adult and child. “In both of these cases, the person was hospitalized and the person recovered,” Starr said. Hospitals and other medical professionals are mandated to report any suspected case of West Nile Virus to the county Public Health Department, Starr said. According to the Centers for Disease Control, California has 34 cases of West Nile disease infections in 2012, as of Aug. 21, and one Californian died from the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, so far in 2012, 47 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds or mosquitoes. A total of 1,118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 41 deaths, have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control. Of these, 629 (56 percent) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 489 (44 percent) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease. Jr. Zebras practice resumed with caution at McBean Park this week after parents of Lincoln Jr. Zebras football players and cheerleaders were informed in a newsletter Friday there had been a confirmed case of West Nile Virus. The football players and cheerleaders practice from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday at McBean Park. “There is a child who plays for the Jr. Zebras, who has contracted the West Nile Virus, but I cannot confirm that he contracted it during practice or not,” said Mike Fain, Lincoln Jr. Zebras president. “We did send a courtesy flyer to be proactive and as a reminder to the parents that they should take precautions.” Parent volunteer cheer coordinator Donna Buss confirmed she received the newsletter about “important health information.” “I passed the information to my coaches, who passed that along to parents,” Buss said. “We asked that all our parents spray their kids with bug spray prior to practice and most of the coaches have brought along bug spray to practice to spray whoever didn’t do it prior. My parents are handling it fine so far. I’ll just be reminding everyone about spraying and hope for the best.” The Lincoln Youth Football Cheer newsletter stated, “Due to the fact that we practice at dusk (the mosquitoes active periods are dawn to dusk), we are suggesting that our families make sure and spray your children (as well as yourselves) with an insect repellent before practice.” Lincoln Youth Football Cheer directed families with questions about West Nile virus to the Center for Disease Control’s website at http://www.cdc.gov. According to the Centers for Disease Control, West Nile virus symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with the disease will not show any symptoms at all, according to the Centers for Disease Control. “I have not heard (about the Lincoln case) but we are usually the last agency to get notified. We have a collaborative relationship with Placer County Public Health,” said Placer County Mosquito and Vector Control District Public Information Officer Ada Barros on Monday. Barros said the two agencies share information if either hears of a case. Starr said dead birds are an indicator that West Nile Virus is in an area. So far this year, 40 birds found in Placer County tested positive for West Nile virus, according to Barros. Last year, 10 birds tested positive. Barros said anyone who finds a dead bird can call the California Dead Bird Hotline at (877) 968-2473. The state will forward a report to the Placer County Mosquito and Vector Control District, which will come out to collect the dead bird and test the bird for the West Nile virus. Tips for preventing contracting West Nile virus Local and state officials have some tips for the public to help prevent being bitten by a mosquito carrying West Nile virus. “The best thing to do is to avoid being out during dusk or dawn,” said Placer County Mosquito and Vector Control District Public Information Officer Ada Barros. “If you are going to be out, wear repellant. There’s not just Deet. The Centers for Disease Control also recommends picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and any product containing IR3535. You will need to read the active ingredients in the small print.” Barros also recommended that residents make sure there are no holes in door or window screens. “There is a mosquito specific to Lincoln and western Placer County that tries aggressively to get into homes,” Barros said. Placer County Director of Community Health Dr. Mark Starr said residents should drain any standing water, even trays under watering pots. “The idea is to reduce the mosquito population,” Starr said. Starr also recommended that residents wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when going out at dusk and dawn, which are peak mosquito hours. California Department of Public Health recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”: 1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Repellents keep the mosquitoes from biting. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older. 2. Dawn and dusk – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and night so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep mosquitoes out. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes. 3. Drain – Mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency. The local district can be reached by calling 380-5444. Starr said horses are susceptible to the disease. He recommends that horse owners take their animals to the veterinarian to be vaccinated against the disease. Dogs and cats are not susceptible to the disease.