The Wyoming Department of Health Tuesday reported its first case of West Nile Virus this year involving an adult in the northeastern part of the state. State and local public health officials are reminding Montanans to take steps to avoid mosquito bites and prevent infection
The virus spreads when mosquitoes feed on infected birds and then bite humans, horses and other animals. The virus cannot spread from person to person.
“There haven’t been any reports of human or equine cases here in Montana quite yet. Typically West Nile Virus season in Montana is from July through October," says Erika Baldry, an epidemiologist with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Montana had its third highest number of reported West Nile Virus cases last year. Forty-seven people — including one fatality — were diagnosed with the virus.
“You know we can’t really predict what every West Nile season is going to look like until we’re in it, and that’s why we really focus on prevention,” says Baldry.
The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services recommends draining standing water around your home to prevent mosquito breeding, using insect repellent and wearing long sleeves and pants — especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Baldry says only one in five people infected with West Nile will develop symptoms, which tend to be flu-like. Fewer than one percent of cases include more serious symptoms that affect the brain and nervous system.