OUTBREAK? Burners Warned of Virus Risk

They say bad luck comes in threes. This year Burning Man faced an unprecedented closure on Monday and Tuesday, followed by an unfortunately fatal art car accident on Thursday.

It seemed like Burning Man might have sneaked home past the nasty Third Fate. The Diplo/Skrillex incident picked up a lot of press attention worldwide, but it was hardly a headache for BMOrg. Just more free publicity, and maybe even further justification for Larry Harvey’s ban on music guides. Exodus was one of the smoothest ever, with almost no significant delays reported by Burners.  More than 10,000 people left the festival before the Man burned, and the official population cap was down from the previous year, keeping the BLM happy.

Alas, ’twas not to be. The mainstream media is reporting on the danger of a potential outbreak of the lethal West Nile Virus, which yesterday killed a man in Long Beach. Officials say anyone who attended Burning Man this year could have been exposed to the virus.

From the Reno Gazette-Journal:

mosquitoMosquito traps set near Gerlach just before the annual Burning Man counter-cultural festival have tested positive for West Nile Virus, the Washoe District Health Department reports.

The traps were checked Aug. 22 and were sent to the state lab on Aug. 25 and they got the state results on Tuesday, said health department spokesman Phil Ulibarri.

On Aug. 6, the health department announced it found the West Nile Virus in the Kiley Ranch area of Spanish Springs, the first West Nile Virus case this year in Washoe County.

The Gerlach General Improvement District will take measures this week to kill the mosquitoes, Ulibarri said.

“We decided to help them with surveillance this year,” Ulibarri said. “We didn’t have the funding to go out there and do abatement.”

A person has tested positive for West Nile Virus in Clark County this summer. Nevada health officials have identified positive mosquito pools in Clark, Washoe, Elko and Mineral County, the county health department said. With so many pools with the virus, the state said other West Nile Virus cases are expected in humans.

From MyNews4:

RENO, Nev. (MyNews4.com & KRNV) — For the second time this year, mosquito samples in the Washoe County area have tested positive for the West Nile virus.

The Washoe County Health District says mosquitos caught in nine traps that were set in the Gerlach area tested positive for the virus.

The health district says this is the first time they’ve set mosquito traps in the Gerlach area. As a precaution, officials say anyone who attended the Burning Man Festival could have been exposed to the virus.

Gerlach does border the Black Rock Desert, but officials say the chances of mosquitoes traveling from Gerlach onto the playa is minimal.

The first human case of the West Nile virus in Nevada this year was reported in Clark County Wednesday afternoon — but officials say it’s not a very common virus.

“West Nile virus is very serious, but people need to know only about one percent of those people bitten by mosquiotes that carry West Nile Nirus will become seriously ill. Seventy to eighty precent of people bitten by mosquito with West Nile will show no signs … or any symptoms,” said Washoe County Health District, Communications Manager Phillip Ulibarr

From EliteDaily:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 70 to 80 percent of victims do not show the usual symptoms of fever, headache, vomiting or rash, but no one from the festival has tested positive just yet.

Nine people have died from West Nile in Nevada this year, with 129 total cases confirmed.

There is no known cure for the infection.

The Gerlach General Improvement District is seeking to eliminate the virus by hunting down all infected mosquito traps beginning this week.

Mosquito traps in three other Nevada counties have also tested positive for the virus, and more human cases are expected to emerge.

 

Normally the Playa is not a place where you need to worry about mosquitos, but the large amount of rain this year may have encouraged their spread. The world is on heightened alert for bio-disasters as international health authorities scramble to contain an outbreak of another deadly virus, Ebola.

westnilevirus

 


 

[Update 9/5/14 9:25am]

KOLO TV has a video story, they say that 6 traps in Gerlach initially tested positive, then all 9 did.

Huffington Post says there’s no reason to be alarmed, because a local press person said it was fine.

just because West Nile was detected in Gerlach doesn’t mean it made its way to your painted van. The Huffington Post reached out to Washoe County press contact Phil Ulibarri who verified that, despite the positive traps in Gerlach, there is no chance the Burning Man desert was infected. “Zero,” he said when asked about the odds of such an occurrence.

So there you have it. The slowly gentrifying hippie-fest, while potentially still your worst nightmare, was at least not infected with a deadly mosquito virus.

HuffPo does not share with us Ulibarri’s qualifications as a virologist. The same spokesperson admitted to the RGJ that they lack funding to do an adequate study. If it helps you sleep at night, believe them, but if you have any of the symptoms, we suggest you get them checked out, just in case.

From SFist:

anyone who was at Burning Man and may have been bitten needs to be on the lookout for symptoms. As Mic notes, those include fever, headache, vomiting or a rash, however 70 to 80 percent of those infected are asymptomatic. Only about 1% of people develop serious symptoms, like meningitis or encephalitis, and those most at risk are people with cancer, diabetes, hypertension, or kidney disease.

 

[Update 9/5/14 1:12pm]

Alayna’s friend is being treated for suspected West Nile virus after returning from the Burn:

Friend returning from the burn is being treated right now for west Nile but waiting on spinal tap results to confirm….flu symptoms followed by sudden seizures….So it may or may not be a real concern to most, but be aware of your body’s signals, if you are sick go to the doctor to be safe. Could be a coincidence but i figure it can’t hurt to be extra cautious

 [9/5/14 11:44pm]

On Facebook Pip Squeek from Vegas has said she has been confirmed with West Nile virus, and came down with its symptoms right after returning from the Burn. There is no other confirmation of this yet:

I have been confirmed for West Nile, though not confirmed that’s where it came from. I got sick about 24 hrs after returning from the Burn. I as pretty near death and it was horrifying. Please don’t just shrug this off. Get medical attention if you start to have symptoms of meningitis. I have reported to the CDC so we will see where this goes

9 comments on “OUTBREAK? Burners Warned of Virus Risk

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  8. “Outbreak” seems a wee bit alarmist, no? Let’s not play into the fear-frenzy promoted by corporate media styles. A warning is good, and warranted, but there’s no outbreak in our community yet.

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