The first human case of West Nile virus (WNV) disease of the year has been reported in Minnesota, according to the Minnesota Department of Health.
State health officials are reminding Minnesotans to protect themselves from mosquitoes that are known to carry the virus.
A Murray County man became ill with West Nile fever in early July and is currently recovering.
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF
MDH officials say routine use of mosquito repellents, especially at dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
-Repellents containing DEET (up to 30 percent concentration) are safe and effective at providing protection against mosquito bites.
-Permethrin is a strong repellent and will kill mosquitoes that come into contact with treated clothing. Repellents containing permethrin are applied to clothing (not skin). Treated clothing can be worn after the repellent dries.
-Additional options include repellents containing picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or IR3535.
-For maximum effectiveness and safety, all mosquito repellents should be used according to label directions.
Other steps to take:
-Minimize outdoor activities at dusk and dawn, as this is prime feeding time for WNV-carrying mosquitoes. If you go outside at these times, take precautions even if mosquito numbers seem low; it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to transmit the virus.
-Wear loose-fitting, long-sleeve shirts and long pants if you must spend time in an area where mosquitoes are biting.
Symptoms of WNV disease usually begin 3 to 15 days after being bitten and can include headache, high fever, rash, muscle weakness, stiff neck, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis and coma.
- We have now entered the high risk season for WNV which continues through early autumn, and the species of mosquito that transmits the virus is most abundant in July and August, said David Neitzel, an MDH epidemiologist specializing in diseases carried by mosquitoes.
-About 1 out of 150 people bitten by a WNV-infected mosquito will develop central nervous system disease (encephalitis or meningitis).
-Approximately 10 percent of people with this severe form of infection die from their illness, and survivors can suffer from long-term nervous system problems.
-Most people bitten by infected mosquitoes develop West Nile fever, the less severe form of disease, or fight off the virus without any symptoms.
-Illness from WNV can occur in residents throughout Minnesota and among all age groups. Elderly people or those with weakened immune systems face the highest risk of developing more severe illnesses.
- WNV risk is greatest in western and central counties, which typically have the greatest number of Culex tarsalis mosquitoes, the primary mosquito carrier of the virus in Minnesota.
-SWNV was first found in Minnesota in 2002.
-535 cases (including 16 deaths) of WNV disease have been reported to MDH.
Questions can be directed to MDH at 651-201-5414 or 1-877-676-5414 (out of state) between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.