The sting of a mosquito bite, while unpleasant, may carry a greater bite lately to some living in Barton County.
Two probable cases and one suspect case of West Nile Virus have been identified in the last month, according to Shelly Schneider, director of the Barton County Health Department.
There is no medical treatment and the illness causes flu-like symptoms, ranging from very mild to severe. Symptoms include fever, achy joints and headache.
Some people have no symptoms at all. “They’ve said people will get it and not know they have had it,” said Schneider. “79-80 percent never develops symptoms.”
People with milder symptoms typically recover on their own, although some symptoms may last for weeks.
Schneider suggests that those that have had many mosquito bites, are having symptoms and feeling really ill to be tested for West Nile at the doctor’s office if they want to know for sure what is wrong.
“Fatigue and weakness can last weeks to months,” she said, for those with more serious symptoms . A few people develop meningitis or inflammation of the brain from West Nile.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in five people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms. Less than one percent of infected individuals develop neurologic disease or meningitis.
Not every mosquito carries the virus, and Schneider suggests using mosquito repellant with DEET and wearing protective clothing to reduce the risk of being infected.
The CDC also recommends repairing screens on doors and windows, and emptying standing water from containers to reduce the mosquito population around the home.
The test for West Nile is a blood test. The illness was first detected in North America in 1999 and has been found in the all lower 48 states. Outbreaks have occurred every summer since then.
There is no vaccine available, and most cases occur June through September.