GREAT FALLS – The Cascade City-County Health Department has confirmed Montana’s first case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a human this year.
The CCHD says that the infected person is over the age of 65 and was exhibiting WNV symptoms, which led to being tested, but is not able to release any other patient-specific information due to privacy laws.
The last human case reported in Cascade County was in 2015, according to a press release from the Cascade City-County Health Department. Earlier this week, the Montana Department of Livestock confirmed the first reported cases of equine West Nile Virus in Montana of the year. The two equine cases are in Musselshell County and Lake County, according to a press release from the agency.
In June, Cascade County Commissioners approved increasing the Mosquito Control Fund by $45,000 for additional chemicals needed to treat mosquitoes in our area after heavy rains and flooding. Targeted efforts have been ongoing and reduction of mosquito populations in fogged areas is ranging from 50% to 90%. Efforts will continue, but residents are strongly urged to continue taking steps to protect themselves.
A WNV-positive sample of adult Culex tarsalis mosquitoes was collected approximately six miles north of Great Falls on Thursday, July 12. The sample was confirmed to be West Nile Virus positive by the lab at the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services in Helena.
Approximately 80% of people infected with WNV experience no symptoms, but up to 20% can develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever.
West Nile fever generally resolves itself without treatment, but dangerous brain infections such as encephalitis or meningitis can develop in 1 out of 150 people, according to the press release. Symptoms of these diseases might include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma, and paralysis. People who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider immediately.
The best defense against WNV is bite prevention.
To protect yourself, public health officials stress the “4 Ds” of prevention:
- DEET – Apply repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient, such as DEET, and follow the directions on the package.
- DUSK and DAWN – This is when mosquitoes are most active. Try to avoid outdoor activities during these times.
- DRAIN STANDING WATER – Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes. Drain such areas around your home (gutters, pools, tires, buckets, water bowls, etc.).
- DRESS APPROPRIATELY – Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants, and socks.
For more information about West Nile Virus, visit the Centers For Disease Control & Prevention website.
Reporting by David Sherman for MTN News