West Nile in Otter Tail County
West Nile Virus is found in birds and horses. Blue jays and crows are common birds that may be infected with the virus. The Minnesota Department of Health has collected dead birds found in Otter Tail County. As of August 9, 2002, the lab results have not been returned. It is expected that birds in Otter Tail County will be positive West Nile Virus.
West Nile Virus is spread by mosquitoes. The mosquito feeds on infected birds. The virus is then transmitted to the mosquito. The mosquito transmits the virus through biting humans. Physicians in Otter Tail County have received information about the West Nile Virus and are aware of the need to consider this illness when persons present with symptoms.
The incubation period for this virus is 3-14 days. The symptoms are similar to a flu-like illness. In some instances persons will become very ill and develop neurological symptoms.
There is no vaccine to prevent West Nile Virus. There is no medication to treat the disease. Seek medical attention if your symptoms are severe and involve severe weakness, headache, and changes in mental status.
Defend Against West Nile
Clearly this is an illness that prevention is the best way to avoid getting West Nile Virus. Personal protection is what you need to do. Avoid being outdoors during mosquito feeding periods. Wear protective clothing such as long sleeves or long pants if you must be outdoors. Use mosquito repellant. In a recent report, Deep Woods Off was found to repel the mosquitoes for the longest period of time.
Habitat elimination is another prevention technique. Remove old tires, bird baths, plugged rain gutters, standing pails of water or other items that will hold standing water. Standing water and moist areas are breeding grounds for all kinds of mosquitoes.
For more information contact Otter Tail County Public Health at 218-998-8320 or check with the Minnesota Department of Health.