Increase of West Nile Virus Cases Reported in North Dakota

The ND Department of Health has seen a rise in reported West Nile virus (WNV) cases in recent weeks. State health officials are reminding people to continue taking precautions against mosquito bites that can cause WNV infection.

As of August 25, 2021, North Dakota confirmed five human WNV cases, with six pending further results. Of the five cases, four were hospitalized and three were neuroinvasive cases. Of the six pending, two are hospitalized. In addition to human cases, two horses, one bird and 16 mosquito pools have also tested positive for WNV.

“People should be aware of the increase in mosquitoes spreading West Nile virus and take proper precautions to protect themselves from bites,” said Amanda Bakken, epidemiologist with the NDDoH. “Peak WNV activity historically has occurred in August. This is the time to be vigilant and take precautions, not just when people are aware mosquitoes are biting them.”

The NDDoH recommends residents take these precautions to avoid mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellent registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that contain ingredients such as DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, PMD, 2-undecanone and permethrin (clothing only). Always follow the directions on the manufacturer’s label for safe and effective use.
    • Wear protective clothing outdoors such as long-sleeved shirts, long pants and socks.
    • Limit outdoor activities between dusk and dawn when mosquitoes that can carry WNV are most likely to bite.
    • Eliminate stagnant water in containers around homes where mosquitoes can lay their eggs (e.g., gutters, buckets, flower pots, old tires, wading pools and birdbaths).
    • Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out of your residence.
    • Maintain a well-trimmed yard and landscape around your home.

     Most people infected with WNV experience no symptoms. Those who develop symptoms will commonly report fever, headache, body/joint aches or rash. People who develop severe illness may experience stiff neck, altered mental status, paralysis, coma and possibly death. People over age 60 and those who have underlying health issues are at increased risk for developing West Nile neuroinvasive disease.

    For more information on WNV, contact Amanda Bakken at [email protected], 701.328.2385 or 800.472.2180.