Protecting You From Mosquito-borne Illness: West Nile Virus

  • Published
  • By Col. Anita Winkler
  • 78th MDG Chief of Aerospace Medicine
West Nile Virus was detected in mosquitos captured at the Robins Family Camp area in late September. Similar testing on mosquitos captured in the officer housing area was negative for the virus. 

According to the Centers for Diseases Control, WNV is most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, and can then spread the infection to other animals they bite.

The good news is most people - 70 to 80 percent - who become infected with WNV don't develop symptoms. About one in five people infected will develop a fever and may experience headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash.

Most people with WNV recover quickly; however, some may experience prolonged fatigue and weakness. Less than 1 percent of people infected develop more serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis - inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues.

There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers can reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. If you think you or a family member may have West Nile Virus you should consult your healthcare provider for evaluation and treatment.

The most effective way to avoid WNV disease is to prevent mosquito bites. The use of insect repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide protection. 

Tips for avoiding mosquito bites:
· Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when mosquitoes are most active;
· Keep screens and windows in good repair to prevent mosquitos from entering living spaces.
· You can reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths.

The 78th Civil Engineering Squadron is working to minimize the risk of WNV disease by reducing the number of mosquitoes. The 78th CES Entomology Shop will place larvicide rings in standing water around the Family Camp to kill young mosquito larvae. 

Family Camp residents should get rid of cans, bottles and any other outside containers that would serve as a breeding ground for mosquitos.

Eliminating potential breeding grounds will greatly diminish the mosquito population. Because it's virtually impossible to eliminate all standing water, the entomology shop will use a mosquito killing fog in the Family Camp area two to three times per week during evening hours starting next week.

That effort will continue until 78th Aerospace Medicine Squadron Public Health surveillance determines that the WNV hazard has been eliminated. 

If you have any questions or concerns regarding West Nile Virus please contact your health care provider or Public Health at (478) 327-8019 or DSN 497-8019.