County finds West Nile

Written by Kelly Ducote / The Observer August 28, 2013 10:04 am
Mosquitoes in Union County have tested positive for West Nile Virus.

A mosquito pool from North Powder tested positive for the virus just days after Union County Vector Control announced that a horse outside La Grande had the virus.

“The big thing right now is we found it in late August,” said Kelly Beehler, the county’s vector control director.

Beehler said it’s better to find West Nile later in the summer. In 2007, the worst year Union County had with West Nile Virus, the virus was found in early July. Seven people contracted the virus that year.

“You should definitely try to protect yourself from mosquito bites. This is the time of year that the potential is so much higher for mosquitoes to be infected,” Beehler said.

No human cases have been reported in the county, and West Nile Virus has not been seen here since 2009, Beehler said.

Tips for protection include eliminating standing water, repairing screens and wearing long sleeves or pants. Using a repellent that contains DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus or Picardin may also help, especially when mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.

Residents are encouraged to call Vector Control at 541-963-2974 if they notice large numbers of mosquitoes or if they encounter a dead bird, which could be infected with the virus.

“Only a few specific birds are affected by West Nile,” Beehler said. “We’re looking for crows, magpies, blue jays, robins, hawks and eagles.”

There are only two types of mosquitoes that carry West Nile in Oregon, Beehler said. Those mosquitoes primarily feed off of birds.

“People aren’t getting bit a lot, so they’re not calling (to get sprayed),” Beehler said. 

West Nile Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes but is typically spread by birds. Most people who contract the virus do not develop any symptoms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Contact Kelly Ducote at 541-786-4230 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Kelly on Twitter @lgoDucote.