NORTH DAKOTA (KXNET) — Preventing mosquito bites is the most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease, and the North Dakota Department of Health simply wants to remind everyone.

While there aren’t any human cases of WNV reported so far in 2022, there is always a risk of getting it anytime mosquitos are active.

“People get WNV through the bite of an infected mosquito,” and Amanda Bakken, NDDoH West Nile Virus Surveillance Coordinator, in a press release. “There is no human vaccine for WNV and there are no specific treatments for the disease so it’s important to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.”

The NDDoH recommends everyone take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that contains ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, PMD, 2-undecanone and permethrin (clothing only). Always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label for safe and effective use. Apply sunscreen prior to applying repellent
  • Wear protective clothing outdoors such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks
  • Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes that can carry WNV are most likely to bite
  • Eliminate stagnant water in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g. gutters, buckets, flower pots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths)
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your residence
  • Maintain a well-trimmed yard and landscape around your home

The majority of people infected with the virus don’t experience any symptoms, but those who do develop symptoms commonly report fever, headache, body/joint aches or rash, according to the Department of Health.

Those who develop severe illness may experience a stiff neck, altered mental status, paralysis, coma and possibly death.

People over 60 or those who have underlying conditions or health issues are at a greater risk.

In 2021, there were 30 North Dakota residents with WNV disease and of those, 14 were hospitalized and one died.

For more information about West Nile virus and mosquito bite prevention, visit the West Nile Virus tab on the Department of Health website.