West Nile Virus
WEST NILE VIRUS is now in most of the United States. Most people become infected
through the bite of an infected mosquito. You can reduce your chance of getting
infected by avoiding mosquito bites.
What Can I Do to Prevent WNV?
The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are the most active from dusk to dawn. Wear long sleeve shirts, long pants and socks sprayed with repellent if you plan to be outdoors when mosquitoes are most active. Or consider staying indoors when the mosquitoes are biting.
- Make sure the screens on your windows and doors are in good shape. This helps keep mosquitoes from getting indoors.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets and other things that hold water. Change the water in pet dishes, and replace the water in birdbaths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren't being used.
What ls the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?
People over 50 at higher risk to get severe illness. People over the age of 50
are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and
should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
Being outside means you're at risk. The more time you're outdoors, the more
time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding
mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing,
Risk through medical procedures is very low. Donated blood is checked for
WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and
organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery
from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
Pregnancy and nursing do not increase the risk of becoming infected with WNV.
The risk that WNV may present to a fetus or an infant infected through breastmilk is still being evaluated. Talk with your doctor if you have concerns.
What happens if l get infected?
Most people who get infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms. Some
people develop a mild illness called West Nile Fever. This mild illness gets better on its own. No treatment is needed. A small number of people (about 1 in 150) who get
infected with West Nile virus develop severe disease, called West Nile encephalitis or
West Nile meningitis (inﬂammation of the brain or the area around the brain). This
severe disease usually requires hospitalization. In some cases, especially among older people, it can result in death, Symptoms of severe illness include headache, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors (shaking), convulsions, coma, and paralysis. See your doctor if you develop these symptoms. There is no speciﬁc treatment for the West Nile virus infection.
NOTE: There is no vaccine available for people.