Written by The Herald-News
The Yellowstone City-County Health Department and the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services are reporting the first human case of West Nile Virus in Yellowstone County and in Montana for 2013.
The case was diagnosed at a Billings hospital and confirmed last week. The patient, a Yellowstone County female resident in her 50s, did not require hospitalization and is expected to fully recover. The individual had no history of travel outside the state within the past month.
“West Nile Virus is most commonly found in people over 50 years old, but every Montanan should be taking precautionary measures to help prevent WNV infection,” said DPHHS director Richard Opper.
In the U.S. this year, 497 human cases of WNV have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, 20 have died.
The first indication of the presence of WNV in Montana this year occurred in mid-July when mosquitoes with WNV were found in Prairie County. The first WNV positive bird was also detected at that time in Sheridan County. Horses with WNV infection were reported in late August from counties in central and eastern parts of the state.
Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms. Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days. Other individuals, fewer than one out of 150, may be come severely infected with West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis. Symptoms of this disease may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.
There is not available treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care. Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider.
DPHHS reminds Montanans to take precautions and protect against West Nile Virus by following the 5 Ds of WNV prevention. The 5 Ds include:
•DUSK/DAWN - mosquitoes are most active during this time. If possible, stay indoors during the early morning and evening hours.
•If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
•Before going outdoors, remember to apply an insect repellent containing 25 to 35 percent DEET when outdoors. Children ages 2-12 should use repellent with 10 percent 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, as 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.
For more information about WNV protection and detection efforts, contact your local health department or the state Department of Public Health and Human Services at 406-444-0273.