You may have heard that West Nile Virus has been detected in Montana in both mosquito samples and human samples. The mosquito samples have come from Blane, Hill, Custer, and Prairie counties and the human samples have been detected in McCone, Big Horn, and Toole County.
The West Nile Virus is maintained in nature and amplified during periods of adult mosquito blood feeding and continuous viral transmission between mosquito vectors and bird reservoir hosts. Infectious mosquitoes carry virus particles in their salivary glands and infect susceptible bird species during blood-meal feeding and the virus can remain in the bird for 1 to 4 days after exposure. The virus is then passed on from the bird host to other mosquitoes after feeding. People, horses, and other mammals are generally considered “dead-end” or incidental hosts.
Most people who become infected with West Nile 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, less than 1 out of 150 may become severely ill with encephalitis or meningitis. Recovery from this 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
If you are like me, you may be a little concerned about this. I’m worried because mosquitos LOVE me. I swear I get bit more than anyone else. It must be because I’m so sweet.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services compiled a list of ways to protect yourself and prevent against West Nile Virus.
· Stay indoors during the early morning and evening hours. Mosquitoes are most active during dusk and dawn.
· If you must be outdoors when mosquitos are active, be sure to dress in long sleeves and pants.
· Before going outdoors, remember to apply an insect repellent containing 25-35% DEET when outdoors. Children ages 2-12 should use repellent with 10% 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 and 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.
Please remember to be follow these rules to prevent West Nile Virus in these last few weeks of summer. This information was gathered by the Department of Public Health and Human Services. If you have any more information or further questions about West Nile Virus, please contact your local health department or your local extension office.
Kim (Suta) Woodring
Toole County Agriculture Extension Agent