Human West Nile Virus Case Identified in Canyon County Health Officials Encourage Taking Precautions


Human West Nile Virus Case Identified in Canyon County
Health Officials Encourage Taking Precautions

CALDWELL, IDAHO – West Nile virus has been confirmed in a Canyon County resident. This is the first 2022 human case of West Nile virus (WNV) infection in the counties served by Southwest District Health.

West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness that is usually spread to animals and humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. It does not spread from person-to-person. Most people infected with the virus do not show symptoms, although more severe symptoms may occur, especially in individuals older than 60. People with symptoms may experience fever, headaches, body aches, fatigue, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash typically occurring 2 to 14 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.

“About one in 150 people infected with WNV develop severe illness such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), or meningitis (inflammation of the linings of the brain and spinal cord),” said Ricky Bowman, Program Manager for Southwest District Health. “These more severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, body aches, disorientation, and tremors, and may require hospitalization” he said.

Measures to lessen the chance of bites from infected mosquitos are underway in Canyon County. “Surveillance and control measures throughout the county have already been increased in response to several previous West Nile virus positive mosquito samples,“ said Jim Lunders, Director of Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District.

The more time you spend outdoors, the higher your chances are that you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. To reduce your risk of contracting WNV you should:

  • Avoid outdoor activities between dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active and feeding
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and loose-fitting clothing if you must be outside between dawn and dusk
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET, Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, IR3535 or Picaridin (follow manufacturers’ instructions) when outside. In addition, certain products containing permethrin are recommended for use on clothing, shoes, bed nets, and camping gear.
  • Remove mosquito breeding sites by draining standing water from flowerpots, buckets, barrels, pool covers, and wading pools. Water held for seven days can produce mosquitoes.
  • Avoid over irrigating your lawns, gardens, and pastures
  • Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths and watering troughs at least twice weekly.
  • Drill holes in tire swings or old tires so water drains out.
  • Vaccinate your horses against West Nile virus.
  • Notify the District at 208-461-8633 if you have a site that is too large to be eliminated so it can be properly treated.

West Nile virus does not usually affect domestic animals, such as dogs and cats, but it can cause severe illness in horses and certain bird species. There is no human vaccine available but there are vaccines available for horses. People are advised to vaccinate their horses to protect them against WNV.

For more information on WNV please visit:

For more information on insect repellents, please visit:

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Media Contacts

Southwest District Health:

Ashley Anderson

Katrina Williams

Canyon County Mosquito Abatement District:

Jim Lunders 

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Health advisory issued for LAKE LOWELL


Health advisory issued for LAKE LOWELL

Based on Idaho’s Department of Environmental Quality’s (DEQ) testing and Idaho’s public health advisory guidelines, Southwest District Health (SWDH) is issuing a health advisory for Lake Lowell. Southwest District Health urges residents to use caution when recreating in or near the water. Recent samples taken from Lake Lowell indicate high concentrations of toxin-producing cyanobacteria, which can be harmful to people, pets, and livestock. Those with liver or kidney damage are at an increased risk of illness.

When recreating near or in Lake Lowell, take the following precautions while the advisory is in effect:

  • Avoid swimming, wading, or other activities in the water. Take extra precautions to ensure children, pets, and livestock are not exposed to the water. Do not drink or cook with water containing a bloom. Boiling and filtering the water does not remove the toxins and can increase the risk of adverse health effects.
  • Wash hands thoroughly in clean water after handling fish caught in water experiencing a bloom. Cyanotoxins can accumulate in fish and the risk to people is being researched. Clean and wash fish thoroughly in uncontaminated water and dispose of internal organs before consumption. If you choose to eat fish from this area, filet the fish and remove all fat, skin, and organs before cooking.
  • Clean skin or pet fur with clean water as soon as possible after any water contact.

No updates will be provided until DEQ testing reveals toxins are below the health standard. The public will be advised when it is likely the concern no longer exists.

Symptoms of cyanotoxin exposure include rashes, hives, diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, and/or wheezing. More severe symptoms affecting the liver and nervous system may result from ingesting water. If symptoms persist, consult your healthcare provider.

Pets, livestock, and wildlife can get sick, or even die, within minutes to days after cyanotoxin exposure. Dogs are often the first affected because they are more likely to swim in or drink contaminated water or lick contaminated water or bloom material off their fur. If your pets or livestock have been in the water, immediately wash them with clean water to keep them from licking cyanobacteria off their bodies. Seek veterinary care immediately if your pets or livestock seem sick after going in or drinking the water.

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of Idaho’s water bodies. When temperatures rise, their populations can bloom and toxic chemical compounds, or cyanotoxins, can be released into the water. Blooms can vary in appearance, and may look like mats, foam, spilled paint, or surface scum, and have a foul odor. Southwest District Health works closely with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW) and the DEQ in identifying, responding to, and monitoring cyanobacteria harmful algal blooms (HABS).

For more information about harmful algal blooms, visit DEQ’s website at or DHW’s website at

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Media Contacts:

DEQ media contact:
Anna Marron

DHW media contact:
Greg Stahl

SWDH media contacts:
Ashley Anderson

Katrina Williams

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