Press release August 14, 2019: State health officials confirm West Nile Virus

Important to take steps to avoid mosquito bites, state health officials say

State and local public health officials are reporting the season’s first West Nile Virus (WNV) detections with three counties reporting positive mosquito samples. Cascade, Sheridan and Yellowstone counties have all had a positive mosquito sample for WNV. To date, no cases of WNV have been identified in a human, but the detection of WNV in Montana is a reminder of the importance of avoiding mosquito bites.

Click here to read DPHHS’ most recent press release, confirming West Nile Virus-positive mosquito samples in three Montana counties.

Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms but 1 in 5 develop a mild illness, with symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may become severely ill with encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). Most people recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or even months.

Communicable Disease Epidemiologist, Erika Baldry, states, “Late July and early August is when we typically see WNV activity pick up here in Montana. Our season can begin as early as July and because it can take some time to become ill, we can receive reports of ill individuals as late as October.”

There is no available treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care. Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider. Detection of WNV in mosquito samples is a good indication that WNV is in Montana. WNV is a vector-borne disease meaning that for individuals to become infected, they must be bitten by an infected mosquito.

DPHHS reminds Montanans to take precautions and protect against WNV by following the 4 D’s of prevention.

The 4 D’s of West Nile Virus prevention:

  1. DEET: Use insect repellent such as DEET or picaridin
  2. Drain: Drain standing water around your house to prevent mosquito breeding
  3. Dawn/Dusk: Mosquitoes are most active during dawn and dusk. Stay inside or take precautions to prevent mosquito bites during these times
  4. Dress: When possible, wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect yourself from bites

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For more information about WNV protection, contact your local health department (CCHD—406-454-6950) or visit the state health department’s West Nile Virus webpage.

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