What is West Nile Virus and how is it spread?
West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus primarily found in birds. It also occurs in horses and humans.
West Nile is spread to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with WNV by feeding on infected birds. Crows are the primary source of the virus in the U.S. It is not known how birds become infected.
There is no evidence that humans cam acquire the disease by handling live or infected animals. The virus cannot be spread from person to person.
There are approximately 2700 types of mosquitoes world-wide. The Culex species transmits the virus. It lives in stagnant, standing water and has a very short life span throughout the summer months.
The first case of WNV was identified in Uganda in 1937. It was identified in New York in 1999.
What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus infection?
Most people infected with the virus do not become ill. People With a mild infection may present with fever, headache, eye pain, Muscle aches, joint pain, rash, and/or swollen lymph nodes. Severe cases occur in 1 of every 150 people. Very rare cases can cause death, generally in the elderly and people with other medical conditions.
In 2009 Wyoming reported 8 mild cases, 4 severe cases and one death. These numbers may not accurately reflect actual cases as many people do not seek medical attention as they are not ill.
Symptoms usually occur 5-15 days after a WNV infected mosquito bite occurs.
What is the treatment for West Nile Virus?
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection, nor is there a human vaccine. However, medications can be given to relieve the symptoms of the illness.
How can I protect myself?
- Limit time spent outdoors at dawn and dusk
- Wear long sleeve shirts and pants when outdoors
- Use a repellant containing DEET when outdoors
- Screens on windows and doors can prevent mosquito entry
- Eliminate sources of standing water. These include: Old tires, metal cans, ceramic pots, clogged rain gutters, wading pools, pool covers, or birdbaths
Who can I contact with concerns:
- Contact your health care provider if you have personal concerns
- If you find a dead bird, contact local authorities or the West Nile project coordinator at the Wyoming Dept. of Health, at 307-742-6638
- All question regarding veterinary testing should be directed to the State Veterinary Pathologist, at 307-742-6638
- Questions regarding human testing should be directed to The Wyoming Department of Health, at 307-777-7172