Lewis & Clark County

Aug 22, 2013 6:53 PM by KXLH

West Nile virus detected in mosquitoes in Lewis & Clark County

Health officials report that West Nile virus has been detected in mosquitoes in Lewis & Clark County.

No cases of the virus have been confirmed in any people in Montana, but the virus has been found in mosquitoes in seven other counties: Hill, Cascade, Blaine, Prairie, Sheridan, Phillips, and Teton.

In a press release, environmental health specialist Laurel Riek of the L&C Health Department said, "Labor Day weekend is coming up, and we know people are likely to be outside where they're at greater risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. The virus is transmitted to people by mosquitoes, so the best way to prevent it is to prevent mosquito bites."

The health department offers recommendations:

- Check your window and door screens and repair as needed to make sure they keep mosquitoes outside.

- Use insect repellent.

- Wear long, loose, light-colored clothing or stay in a mosquito-protected area at dawn and dusk, when mosquitoes are most active.

Most people who get WNV experience do not experience symptoms. About 20% develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which usually lasts a few days. For some, West Nile fever can last for several weeks. Symptoms include headache, muscle aches, and a low-grade fever that goes away on its own.

About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop dangerous brain infections like encephalitis or meningitis. Symptoms of these diseases can include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma, and paralysis. Anyone with these symptoms should see a health-care provider immediately.

Removing mosquito breeding areas is another way to help to prevent the spread of West Nile virus. The health department recommends that you:

- Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, and barrels regularly.

- Change the water in birdbaths and clean them with a garden hose weekly.

- Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.

- Store tarps and children's wading pools so that water can't accumulate in them when they're not being used.

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