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West Nile Virus surveillance underway in North Dakota

An <em>Anopheles gambiae</em> mosquito feasts on a human.
Jim Gathany
An Anopheles gambiae mosquito feasts on a human.

The North Dakota Department of Health and Human Services confirms roughly 20-30 cases per year.

The North Dakota Department of Health is gearing up to begin its surveillance of West Nile Virus in the state.

Amanda Bakken is West Nile Virus Surveillance Coordinator with HHS. She says in a typical year, anywhere from 20 to 30 cases of the mosquito-borne virus are officially confirmed with the department. She says a lot of times, many people don’t know they have it so those cases are never confirmed. And she says she hopes this will be another typical year for West Nile Virus circulation – however –

"This year, you know, it's been quite different from last year in that our temperatures have been much warmer much earlier. So we have seen a lot more mosquitoes out, flying around and unfortunately biting people earlier than last year. I do know that vector control districts have seen higher numbers this year than last year, which is expected just because as temperatures rise and mosquitoes do come out and start breeding, populations start to build a little earlier."

Bakken says symptoms of West Nile Virus can include headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. She says mosquitoes that transmit the virus are most active at dawn and dusk, so to protect yourself when you’re outdoors during those times – wear protective clothing and insect repellent like DEET. She also says it can be helpful to keep grass cut short and brush trimmed back, as well as eliminating any standing water from your yard.