The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has seen a rise in reported West Nile virus (WNV) cases in recent weeks. State health officials are reminding people to continue taking precautions against mosquito bites that can cause WNV infection.
As of September 7, 2022, North Dakota reported 11 human WNV cases, with additional cases pending further results. Of the 11 cases, four were hospitalized, and four were neuroinvasive cases. In addition to human cases, one bird and 19 mosquito pools have also tested positive for WNV.
“People should be aware of the increase in mosquitoes spreading West Nile virus and take proper precautions to protect themselves from bites,” said Amanda Bakken, HHS epidemiologist. “Peak WNV activity historically has occurred in late August, but with the late spring, we are not surprised to see an increase in cases continuing into September. This is the time to be vigilant and safeguard against disease.”
HHS Public Health Division recommends residents take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellent registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contain ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, PMD, 2-undecanone, and permethrin (clothing only). Always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label for safe and effective use.
- Wear protective clothing outdoors such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
- Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes that can carry WNV are most likely to bite.
- Eliminate stagnant water in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g. gutters, buckets, flower pots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths).
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your residence.
- Maintain a well-trimmed yard and landscape around your home.
Most people infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms. Those who develop symptoms will commonly report fever, headache, body/joint aches or rash. People who develop severe illness may experience stiff neck, altered mental status, paralysis, coma and possibly death. People over 60, or those who have underlying health issues are at greater risk for developing West Nile neuroinvasive disease.