The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) disease in 2015 in North Dakota. Additionally, two mosquito pools from Grand Forks County have tested positive for WNV. To help avoid contracting the virus, state and local health officials urge people to protect themselves from mosquito bites.
The patient is a female in her 40s who resides in McLean County. The patient was not hospitalized for her illness. “The identification of West Nile virus in a person is a reminder of the importance of protecting ourselves from the bites of mosquitoes,” said Laura Cronquist, epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health. “It is particularly important for people over the age of 50 and those with other medical conditions to prevent mosquito bites, as they are more at risk for severe complications from West Nile virus.”
NDDoH recommends residents take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites: Use insect repellents containing ingredients registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus (or PMD) or permethrin – and apply according to manufacturer’s instructions; wear protective clothing, such as long-sleeved shirts and pants; limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite; eliminate stagnant water in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (such as buckets, flowerpots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths);and keep the grass around your home trimmed.
In 2014, the NDDoH received reports that 23 people tested positive for West Nile virus. Of those 23, eight were hospitalized and one died. West Nile infection was also identified one cow, one horse and two moose. The common symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches and rash. People with more severe illness may experience symptoms such as stiff neck, confusion, paralysis, coma and even death. Fortunately, most people infected with West Nile virus develop the less severe form of the disease or develop no symptoms at all.