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West Nile Virus Present in Montana Mosquitoes in at Least Six Counties

Photo courtesy of calafellvalo/Flickr

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (DPHHS) has discovered West Nile Virus in two types of Montana mosquitoes.  Arboreal Viral Epidemiologist with DPHHS Joel Meriman explains the findings.

“We have six counties so far that have tested positive in mosquitoes for West Nile Virus: Cascade, Teton, Prairie, Sheridan, Blaine, and Phillips,” Meriman said. “This isn’t so much a surprise as these counties have tested positive for West Nile Virus in the past. What is a concern is the fact that all of the states around Montana have tested positive for human cases.

Montana has had relatively low levels of west Nile virus cases in humans in the recent past, however, although there were only six cases last year and one of those cases resulted in death.

“It has been five years since Montana has had more than ten reported cases in the state, so it’s been relatively quiet,” Meriman said. The worst years have been 2007 and 2003. In both of those years we had over 200 cases.”

West Nile virus can cause West Nile Encephalitis, a disease with symptoms such as high fever, tremors and paralysis. Nationwide, 286 people died from from the disease last year.

For prevention, Meriman recommends following the “five D’s“. Avoid being outside during Dusk and Dawn when mosquitoes with the virus are more apt to strike. Dress appropriately with long pants and sleeves if you will be outside for extended periods of time. Use Deet. Finally, Drain areas of stagnant water which can harbor mosquitoes.

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