Mosquitoes and West Nile virus

This advisory came in from Deschutes County yesterday, and while I don’t think there’s much likelihood of West Nile showing up, you can never be too careful.

An unusual fluctuation in the river levels around Central Oregon is causing a tremendous spike in mosquito hatches this season in Deschutes County. However, no mosquitoes in Oregon have tested positive for the virus. Due to the increase of mosquitoes in the County, it is more important than ever for residents to protect themselves against mosquito bites this summer.

Contracting West Nile virus can be very serious. Taking a few precautions to avoid mosquito bites can prevent infection.

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Rid Your Home of Standing Water:
The first line of defense against mosquito-borne disease is to avoid mosquitoes. Eliminate mosquito-breeding areas (standing water) such as puddles or containers that hold water around your home. Change the water in pet dishes, birdbaths or stock tanks at least once a week. Consider using products sold in garden stores containing larvicidal bacteria to treat ponds or bodies of water that cannot be eliminated to kill mosquito larvae.

Protect Yourself:
Stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. When outdoors, wear long sleeve shirts and long pants. Use insect repellents with DEET according to directions and place mosquito netting over infant carriers when outside. Inspect all home window and door screens to make sure they are free of holes.

What are the Symptoms of WNv and who is at Risk? WNv can be a serious illness and affects the central nervous system. Symptoms vary and develop between 3 and 14 days after an infected mosquito bites a person. There is no specific treatment for the virus.

West Nile virus is spread to humans through infected mosquitoes. Certain
species of mosquitoes carry WNv and acquire the virus when they feed on infected birds. In a very small number of cases, WNv has spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding, and from mother to baby during pregnancy. WNv is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with the virus will show NO symptoms at all. Up to 20 percent of people infected will display symptoms that can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands, and skin rash. Symptoms can last from a few days up to several weeks. One in 150 people infected with WNv will develop serious illness. This may include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness or paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks; neurological effects may be permanent.

Young children and adults over 50 are at a higher risk of getting sick from WNv. If you or someone you know is at risk and develops symptoms, seek medical care.

For more information about preventing West Nile virus, please call 322-7418 or visit or