West Nile virus found in Cass mosquitoes
By Helmut Schmidt /The Forum
FARGO – Three pools of mosquitoes in Cass County tested positive for West Nile virus on Tuesday, Vector Control reported.
In response, the cities of Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo sprayed Wednesday for adult mosquitoes.
One human case of West Nile virus was recently reported in Grant County, and Grand Forks has found infected mosquitoes and birds, said Ben Prather, director of Cass County Vector Control.
He said Cass County had eight reported West Nile cases last year. Infections often run in multiyear cycles, he said.
“We want to get out ahead” of this,” Prather said. “We don’t want human cases to occur before we take action.”
Prather also encouraged rural residents to use mosquito sprays they can buy at co-ops and stores to knock down mosquito numbers around their yards and outbuildings.
The public can take precautions, particularly at dawn and dusk, by wearing long-sleeve shirts and pants, and using repellents with DEET or other chemicals safe for humans.
West Nile virus is commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. It can cause flu-like symptoms, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
Most people, 70 to 80 percent, develop no symptoms.
About one in five people develop a fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. Most of them recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
Less than 1 percent of those infected develop meningitis or encephalitis. Symptoms of those illnesses include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.
About 10 percent of those with a serious West Nile infection die.
There are no medications to treat West Nile virus infections, though over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce fever and symptoms. In severe cases, patients often must be hospitalized.
Most people are infected from June to September.
The Grant County case, the first human case this year in North Dakota, is a female in her 30s. She was not hospitalized for the illness.
In 2012, there were 89 human cases of West Nile virus reported in North Dakota.