Health officials in Montana recently reported the first detection of West Nile Virus (WNV) of the year in mosquitoes from Blaine County. So far, no cases of WNV have been found in humans or horses this season, but the risk of transmission to both is expected to remain high until October, while mosquitoes are still active.
Preventive measures include protecting oneself from mosquito bites, especially during peak feeding times at dusk and dawn, using repellents with DEET, and wearing appropriate clothing. Regularly eliminating standing water around homes is also crucial to keep mosquitoes away. Mosquito surveillance has identified an abundance of active Culex species mosquitoes, which are known carriers of WNV.
The "4 Ds" of mosquito bite prevention are recommended:
DEET - Use a repellant containing DEET.
DUSK and DAWN - Mosquitos are most active during these hours, so it is best to restrict outdoor activity during these times.
DRAIN - Drain any standing water around your property at least once per week to keep mosquitos from breeding.
DRESS - Dressing appropriately to cover exposed skin (long sleeves, long pants and socks.)
Although most WNV infections do not cause symptoms, severe cases can lead to neurological complications or death, particularly in horses.
Currently, there is no specific vaccine or treatment for WNV in humans, but a vaccine is available for horses, and horse owners are advised to consult their local veterinarian for questions about WNV.