Public health officials in Montana are reporting the season’s first West Nile Virus detections with both mosquito samples and humans testing positive for infection.
According to a press release from the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, three human cases have been reported in McCone, Bighorn and Toole counties, and mosquito samples from Blaine, Hill, Custer and Prairie counties recently tested positive.
The human cases, all adults, experienced mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
“With the hot conditions experienced in July we see mosquitoes carrying WNV emerge,” said DPHHS Director Sheila Hogan. “We usually see positive mosquito samples followed by human cases. This year we are seeing both at the same time and it is a reminder to avoid mosquito bites.”
Most people who become infected with the virus experience no symptoms, but 1 in 5 develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days.
Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may become severely ill with encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).
Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months.
Some of the neurologic effects may be permanent and about 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection will die.
There is no available treatment for West Nile Virus infection other than supportive care.
Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider. These first reported cases illustrate that the virus is a real threat and people need to take action to protect themselves.
DPHHS reminds Montanans to take precautions and protect against the virus by following the 5 Ds of West Nile Virus prevention. The 5 Ds include:
– DUSK and 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 outside, 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.
– To keep the mosquito population at bay around your home, DRAIN standing water in old tires, barrels, buckets, cans, clogged rain gutters, and other items that collect water. Change water in pet bowls, flowerpots, and birdbaths at least twice a week.