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Public Health

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 Aug. 22, North Dakota reported nine human WNV cases, with additional cases pending further results. Of the nine cases, eight were hospitalized, and seven were neuroinvasive cases. In addition to human cases, three birds and 22 mosquito pools have also tested positive for WNV.  

“This is the time to be vigilant and safeguard against disease. Peak WNV activity historically has occurred in late August with cases continuing into mid-September,” said Amanda Bakken, HHS epidemiologist. “People should be aware of the increase in mosquitoes spreading West Nile virus and take proper precautions to protect themselves from bites.” 

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.  

For more information on West Nile virus, got to: West Nile Virus About | Health and Human Services North Dakota 

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