North Dakota to begin West Nile virus surveillance on June 1

West Nile Virus surveillance to start June 1
West Nile Virus surveillance to start June 1 | Courtesy of wikipedia.org

The North Dakota Department of Health has partnered with several federal, state, local and private agencies to begin surveillance for West Nile virus, starting June 1, 2015.

The surveillance activities include testing and reporting sick horses and similar domestic animals. The workers will also trap and test mosquitoes, test and report dead birds, and monitor a wide range of illnesses in humans.

The majority of people who contract West Nile virus do not experience any symptoms. If the remaining minority does experience symptoms, they will be limited to headaches and fevers. West Nile neuroinvasive diseases, the most dangerous form of the virus, can cause stiff necks, high fevers, severe headaches, altered mental states and possibly death. People who are 50 years and older and have compromised immune systems have a greater risk of contracting neuroinvasive diseases.

In 2014, there were 23 people who tested for West Nile virus. Eight of those people were hospitalized; one of the eight died. One horse, one cow and two moose contracted West Nile virus last year, as well.

“West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito,” Michelle Feist, program manager for the North Dakota Department of Health, said. “In North Dakota, the greatest risk for West Nile virus transmission occurs during the months of July and August when the Culex tarsalis mosquito, the mosquito that transmits the disease, is more abundant.”

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North Dakota Department of Health

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