West Nile Virus

September 8, 2017 | Communicable Disease

West Nile Virus may sound scary, but don’t panic, there are ways to protect you and your family. West Nile Virus was first reported in Montana in 2002. In 2017 there have been seven reported cases in humans to date and none have been fatal.1 Awareness is key to prevention.

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

WNV is a virus related to dengue and yellow fever. At least 225 species of birds carry the virus, crows and blue jays are the most common. The virus is transmitted from birds to humans through the Culex species mosquito. Horses and other equines are also very susceptible but there is a vaccine available. There is not currently a vaccine for humans, but clinical trials are underway. Primary symptoms are sudden onset of fever, muscle aches, fatigue and rash. Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms but 1 in 5 develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days.  If you do show symptoms, see your health care provider.

Keep Mosquitos off your Body:

Take precautions and protect yourself against WNV by following the 5 Ds of WNV prevention.  The 5 Ds include:

  • DUSK/DAWN – mosquitoes are most active during this time.  If possible, stay indoors during the early morning and evening hours.
  • If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
  • Before going outdoors, remember to apply an insect repellent containing 25 to 35 % DEET when outdoors.  Children ages 2-12 should use repellent with 10 percent DEET or less. DEET is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the most effective and best studied insect repellent available. Products containing picaridin and permethrin have also been found to be effective in repelling mosquitoes, as has oil of lemon eucalyptus.

Limit Mosquito Habitat

  • To keep the mosquito population at bay around your home, DRAIN standing water in old tires, barrels, buckets, cans, recycling bins, clogged rain gutters, and other items that collect water.  Change water in pet bowls, flowerpots, and birdbaths at least twice a week.
  • Discard tires and unused containers.
  • Keep grass and shrubs around the house trimmed.Keep in mind, immune compromised and older people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible for illness and should take extra precautions.For more information, go to CDC.gov, or West Nile Virus – Use Protection Avoid Infection.

1 https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/statsmaps/preliminarymapsdata2017/disease-cases-state.html