West Nile Virus

GREAT FALLS- The City County Health Department is reporting mosquitoes around Great Falls are once again carrying the West Nile Virus, a potentially deadly infection. 

“The West Nile Virus can infect just about anybody,” explains Bowen Trystianson, a Public Health Nurse.   

Believe it or not, 80% of the people infected  won't experience any symptoms.

In fact, you could go your whole life without ever knowing you contracted the infection.

“Once you've picked up the virus, your body does develop antibodies and you're pretty much considered immune from then on,” explains Trystianson.

Regardless, you'll want to be on the lookout for a few signs and symptoms.

The first of these is a headache and fever, which can typically just be managed at home.

However, symptoms can worsen to blurred vision, confusion and swelling of the brain.

“We have seen a few that have been complicated enough that they've needed a higher degree of treatment; and people have had to be life flighted out in order to have it treated,” says Trystianson.  

Over the past few years, the City County Health Department has seen an increase in West Nile Virus cases around Great Falls.

Last year, roughly a dozen people were treated for the infection, with 0 cases so far this year.

While there isn't a solid answer as to why, many believe Mother Nature is to blame.

“One of the issues we faced last year was we had an increased flood season; and that wiped out some of our pre-planning for mosquito control,” explains Trystianson.

However, Mother Nature isn't the only thing to blame when it comes to spreading the West Nile Virus.

Horses will also pick-up West Nile Virus; birds as well are another carrier for West Nile Virus,” says Trystianson.

In order to prevent contracting the West Nile Virus, the City County Health Dept. advises following the 4 D’s.

D: Dump any standing water around your home.

D: Don’t stay our around dusk or dawn.

D: DEET bus spray should be applied while outdoors

D: Dress appropriately; long sleeve shirt and pants

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