In a moment I can only describe as "Oh joy, another thing to worry about"... West Nile Virus cases have been popping up across Montana, and in Yellowstone County, this year.

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Stats So Far

According to the Montana Department of Health and Human Services, we've had less than 5 cases reported in humans inside Yellowstone County so far this year. Beyond our county, here's how it stacks up:

Credit: MT DPHHS
Credit: MT DPHHS

Now this looks far worse than it actually is. Orange counties are where West Nile has been detected. Green, no detection. And grey, they haven't been sampling for the virus.

Around Yellowstone County, only Carbon and Rosebud have seen other cases so far in 2023. The majority of human cases are located in the Northeastern corner of Montana, in Richland, Dawson & McCone counties.

What are the symptoms of West Nile?

According to the Montana DPHHS, most who become infected with West Nile experience no symptoms. Some will get a mild illness, called West Nile Fever... but generally, you shake it off in a few days.

However, it is possible to get symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis from West Nile:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Neck stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness
  • Paralysis

Those people develop those symptoms between 3 to 14 days after being bitten, and may last for weeks... or forever.

What Should I Do To Prevent West Nile?

For having cures to many things in this day and age, one we do not have is for West Nile. However, West Nile today is not what we remember from years ago. These days, you can take a few steps to reduce your chances of getting the virus which are easy to follow (Courtesy MT DPHHS):

  1. DAWN &  DUSK  - When possible, avoid spending time outside at dawn and dusk.
  2. DRESS- Wear shoes, socks, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt when outdoors for long periods of time or when mosquitoes are most active. Clothing should be light-colored and made of tightly woven materials to keep mosquitoes away from the skin.
  3. DRAIN  - Reduce the amount of standing water in or near your property by draining and/or removing it. Mosquitoes may lay eggs in areas with standing water.
  4. DEET  - For additional protection from mosquitoes, use an insect repellent containing DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) or picaridin (KBR 3023). Other insect repellents such as oil of lemon eucalyptus and IR3535 are also registered by the EPA but may be less effective than products containing DEET. It is important to follow the product guidelines when using insect repellant.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Are you worried about West Nile? What is your go-to bug spray? Let us know on App Chat or on Facebook.

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