DPHHS Home       About Us       Contact Us       News & Events       Programs & Services       Health Data & Statistics

A - Z Index

NEWS Improving and Protecting the Health, Well-Being
and Self-Reliance of All Montanans.

July 10, 2012
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

DPHHS offers prevention tips to help Montanans avoid West Nile Virus this summer

Health officials at the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services are cautioning people about mosquito related illnesses. 

Summer is a prime time for exposure to mosquitos in Montana.  Some mosquitos may be infected with West Nile Virus (WNV).  Since 2002 when WNV was first reported in Montana, over 90 percent of cases have been reported in August and September. 

A person, bitten by an infected mosquito, might become infected and develop West Nile fever or a more severe illness, such as brain infections like West Nile meningitis or encephalitis.  Removing mosquito breeding areas and preventing mosquito bites are two ways to help to prevent being exposed to West Nile virus. 

“The best way to prevent West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites,” said DPHHS Director Anna Whiting Sorrell. “The more time you spend outdoors the more chance you have of being bitten by an infected mosquito. We encourage everyone to take precautions against West Nile while recreating outside this summer.”

DPHHS recommends important prevention steps to take around your home.  

  • Make sure you have screen protection on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites.
  • Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels.
  • Change the water in pet dishes and in bird baths daily.
  • Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
  • Empty children's wading pools and store in a position to prevent water accumulation when they aren't being used.
  • If standing water cannot be removed, add mosquito-killing products labeled for elimination of mosquito larvae.
  • Use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient and follow the directions on the package.
  • Mosquito activity may increase at dusk and dawn. Use repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or stay in a mosquito protected area. 

Infection by WNV develops in about 3-14 days after being bitten by a mosquito infested with the virus. Many people who become infected with West Nile experience no symptoms. Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days.  Symptoms include headache, muscle aches, and low grade fever that resolves without any treatment.  Generally, no treatment is needed.

However, about 1 in 150 infected persons develop symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis.  Symptoms of these diseases may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis. Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their health-care provider immediately.

Montana’s reported West Nile Virus cases in humans Montana have ranged from over 200 cases a year in 2003, and 2007 to no cases in 2010 and one case in 2011. “We cannot be sure what the impact will be in a given year so it is very important to take precautions, protect yourself from bites and eliminate breeding sites around your home,” said Karl Milhon, DPHHS Communicable Disease Program manager.  

For more information go to the DPHHS website at www.dphhs.mt.gov.
Page last updated: 07/09/2012