Protecting Yourself Against the West Nile Virus this Summer
North Dakota Department of Health information shows 62 people had been diagnosed with West Nile Virus last year
FARGO, N.D. — The West Nile Virus has infected a person in Bismarck making them the first human case this year in North Dakota.
In Grand Forks, there’s also been a pool of mosquitoes has tested positive for the virus. There have been no mosquitoes found yet with the West Nile Virus in Fargo–Moorhead.
But employees at Cass County Vector Control are still taking precautions.
“We know it’s making its way to people. We know it’s in the area. We haven’t found anything yet. It’s just a matter of time until we find it. It’s something that we monitor from day one,” said Carter Woodley, with Cass County Vector Control.
Normally Vector Control monitors for mosquitoes with West Nile in late July or early August.
This year, they are checking even sooner.
“A lot of that has to do with the hot, dry conditions that we’ve had early on this summer. That’s really great for just kind of a perfect basket for what these mosquitoes need to get their life cycle up and running,” Woodley said.
Before these little buggers do, Woodley says you’ll want to be prepared.
Experts say some of the best ways to protect yourself is by using a bug spray that has DEET in it, wearing long sleeves and pants and by always mowing your lawn.
“Around the house, around the home or on the farm, you can eliminate stagnant water and leaf debris and containers around the home where mosquitoes can lay their eggs,” Woodley said.
North Dakota Department of Health information shows 62 people had been diagnosed with West Nile Virus last year, which isn’t always the easiest to detect.
“Most people with West Nile Virus don’t experience any symptoms,” said Brenton Nesemeier, with the North Dakota Department of Health. “But if you do have symptoms, most people have the mild symptoms such as a fever and headache. In severe infections, which is less than 100, you can have a high fever, severe headaches, stiff neck, altered mental state.”
While the virus can be a serious infection, Nesemeier says that doesn’t mean people shouldn’t take advantage of the summer weather.
“It’s just going to be around every year. It’s something that we’re going to have to live with being in North Dakota since we do have the mosquito that carries the West Nile Virus,” Nesemeier said. “We definitely don’t want people to freak out and or limit outdoor activities or not enjoy themselves. Just take precautions.”‘
Of those 62 patients who contracted the virus last year in North Dakota, 35 percent were hospitalized and two died.
And in Minnesota, there were 23 cases and one death in 2017.