Take Steps to Prevent West Nile Virus

Montana public health officials have reported the state’s first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a human.  The case was confirmed in Custer County, but serves as an important reminder to individuals across the state that they should take steps to minimize mosquito bites.

As of August 1, 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports 241 WNV cases Nationwide, including 4 deaths.  This is an increase in reports nationally, however Cascade County Weed and Mosquito Management District reports that they have tested nearly 90 mosquito pools (over 4,000 Culex tarsalis mosquitoes – the vector for WNV) with no positive samples. Ryan Arkoudas, Manager for the District reassures residents, “We have been testing mosquito pools for West Nile Virus since mid-June and will continue to do so through September if the vector mosquitoes persist.” He goes on to add that the “types and numbers of mosquitoes are tracked constantly throughout the county so that we can ensure we are taking all possible steps to help protect residents from WNV.”

The severity and symptoms of WNV can vary widely.  Approximately 80% of persons infected experience no symptoms, but up to 20% of persons can develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever.  West Nile fever generally resolves itself without treatment, but dangerous brain infections such as encephalitis or meningitis can develop in 1 out of 150 people.  Symptoms of these diseases might include  headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.  Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare  provider immediately.

The single best defense against WNV is bite prevention. To protect yourself, use the 4 Ds:

  • DEET-Apply repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient, such  as DEET, and follow the directions on the package.
  • DUSK and DAWN-This is when mosquitoes are most active. Try to avoid outdoor activities during these times.
  • DRAIN STANDING WATER-Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drain such areas around your home (gutters, pools, tires, buckets, water bowls, etc.).
  • DRESS APPROPRIATELY-Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.

For more information, click here or download our printable fact sheet. You can also visit the Cascade County Weed and Mosquito Management District’s website at www.cascademosquito.org.