BISMARCK The North Dakota Department of Health has confirmed the first human case of West Nile virus disease in 2014 in North Dakota.
The patient is a female in her 50s who resides in Richland County. The patient was not hospitalized for her illness. At this time last year, North Dakota reported eight cases of West Nile virus in humans.
"The identification of West Nile virus in a person is a reminder of the importance of protecting ourselves from the bites of mosquitoes," said Alicia Lepp, 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."
To reduce the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes, the state health department recommends the following protective measures:
- Use insect repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR 3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or permethrin when outdoors; always follow the directions on the manufacturer's label.
- Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most likely to bite.
- When possible, wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts while outside.
- Eliminate stagnant water and leaf debris in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g., buckets, flowerpots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths).
- Keep mosquitoes from entering your home by repairing screens in windows and doors.
- Keep the grass around your home trimmed
In 2013, 127 human cases of West Nile virus were reported to the Department of Health. In addition, West Nile infection was identified in two cows, one horse, one dog and 11 birds.
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.
West Nile virus activity will be updated Wednesday mornings each week throughout the West Nile virus season on the Department of Health's West Nile virus website at (www.ndhealth.gov/wnv).