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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2013

Contact:   

Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391

State health officials confirm two West Nile Virus deaths

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Treasure County Health Department and RiverStone Health, have confirmed two West Nile Virus (WNV) human deaths in Montana over the past week. There have been 15 confirmed WNV cases this year.

The deceased, a Treasure County male in his eighties and a Yellowstone County male in his seventies, died of severe complications related to West Nile Virus infection. The individuals had no history of travel outside the state within the past month.

“These deaths are an unfortunate reminder infection with WNV can have serious consequences,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “We want to remind people to take precautions and protect themselves as the season comes to a close.”

In the U.S. this year, 890 human cases of WNV have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, thirty-three have died.

Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms.  Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days. Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may be come severely infected with West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis.  Symptoms of this disease may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.  There is not available treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care.  Individuals who develop any of these symptoms should see their healthcare provider. 

Although summer is slowly winding down, and temperatures are beginning to drop, DPHHS reminds Montanans to take precautions and protect against West Nile Virus by following the 5 Ds of WNV prevention.  The 5 Ds include:

  • DUSK/DAWN - mosquitoes are most active during this time.  If possible, stay indoors during the early morning and evening hours.
  • If you must be outdoors when mosquitoes are most active, DRESS in long sleeves and pants.
  • Before going outdoors, remember to apply an insect repellent containing 25 to 35 % DEET when outdoors.  Children ages 2-12 should use repellent with 10 percent DEET or less. DEET is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is the most effective and best studied insect repellent available. Products containing picaridin and permethrin have also been found to be effective in repelling mosquitoes, as has oil of lemon eucalyptus.
  • To keep the mosquito population at bay around your home, DRAIN standing water in old tires, barrels, buckets, cans, clogged rain gutters, and other items that collect water.  Change water in pet bowls, flowerpots, and birdbaths at least twice a week.

For more information about WNV protection please visit  www.dphhs.mt.gov

Page last updated 09/19/2013