Sharp County hasn't had any confirmed cases of West Nile virus, but according to James Tanner with the Sharp County Health Department and Hometown Health Improvement Project, it's just a matter of time since there have been confirmed cases in counties surrounding Sharp.
Tanner spoke at the Spring River Chamber of Commerce's monthly meeting Aug. 20. He said Sharp has not had any confirmed cases of the virus but said there are several cases pending. Birds have been sent to the testing agency in Little Rock, but the agency has been inundated, receiving approximately 100 birds a day, with the ability to check only 10 per day.
Sharp County Judge Harold Crawford said the county has applied for a $15,000 grant to be used toward mosquito abatement. Gov. Mike Huckabee has set aside $1 million to be used toward the growing concern. Crawford said the county will use any money they receive to purchase a larvicide to be put in ponds and other bodies of stagnant water located in the county. Both Crawford and Tanner said the larvicide was more effective than sprays used to kill adult mosquitoes.
Crawford said pamphlets and brochures are available at the courthouse with information on the virus and preventive measures the public can take.
According to the Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild ones. On rare occasions, West Nile virus infection can result in a severe and sometimes-fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). The risk of severe disease is higher for persons 50 years of age or older.
There is no evidence to suggest the virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.