HELENA – State officials reported Thursday the first case of West Nile Virus of the season has been detected in both humans and mosquitos.
Three human cases have been reported in McCone, Bighorn and Toole counties. The human cases were all among adults who experienced mild symptoms and did not require hospitalization.
Mosquito samples from Blaine, Hill, Custer and Prairie counties recently tested positive.
“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.”
Health officials say one important prevention measure to take is to eliminate any standing water on or near property. Besides draining water also change the water in pet bowls, flower pots, and birdbaths at least twice a week.
“And the standing water is essentially the breeding ground for them,” said Karl Milhon, supervisor for DPHHS Communicable Disease Section. “Any protection you can do for yourself, your family and your livestock, you should engage in.”
DPHHS reported that most people who become infected have no symptoms. One in five experience a mild illness called West Nile fever. This can last up to six days.
One in 150 patients may develop encephalitis or meningitis. Recovery could take anywhere from several weeks to months.
Health officials say the best way to stay healthy is to avoid mosquito bites. If possible, stay indoors during the early morning and evening hours.
Dress in long sleeves and pants. Use insect repellent containing 25 to 35 percent DEET when outdoors. Children ages two to 12 should use repellent with 10 percent DEET or less.
Horses can be protected with the West Nile Virus vaccine.
DPHHS says the reported cases are a reminder of the precautions people should take to protect themselves.
There is currently no treatment for WNV for those infected other than supportive care. If you develop symptoms, see a healthcare provider.
For more information about protection click here.