West Nile Virus

Fight the Bite

West Nile Virus is here to stay in Idaho. You can protect yourself with a few easy steps.

You Can Avoid Illness

Infected mosquitoes can carry West Nile Virus (WNV) and spread it to people and animals.

Four out of five people infected with WNV won't have any symptoms, but some people can become very sick and some will die. Although infections can be more serious in older people due to lowered immune systems, the virus can cause severe illness in all ages. Symptoms of WNV show up around 3 to 14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito. You can only get WNV from a mosquito bite - you can't catch WNV from a person or animal.

Illness from West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus symptoms may include fever, tiredness, headaches, a rash, and sore muscles. Symptoms can be very serious and painful, and can last anywhere from a few days to months.

West Nile Virus can cause neuroinvasive disease. This means the virus may infect the brain or nerves causing very serious problems like brain swelling and paralysis. A person with West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease may have seizures, tired arms and legs, a rash, stomach pain, and may seem confused. Recovery can take months and may lead to long-term problems, and in rare cases cause death.

Your doctor is the best person to talk to about West Nile Virus.

You Can Protect Yourself and Your Family

Avoid mosquito bites by following these important, but easy steps:

  • Use insect repellents to avoid mosquito bites. DEET, Picaridin, and Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus are all EPA-approved repellents. Follow label instructions carefully.
  • DEET is endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics for children over 2 months of age.
  • Cover up when outside. Put on long pants, long-sleeved shirts, and socks from dusk to dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Cover up your baby, too. Use mosquito netting over baby carriers and strollers.
  • Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Get rid of standing water on your property, even small amounts of water such as what collects in an old tire or an empty flower pot.
  • Clean or drain bird baths and non-circulating decorative ponds weekly.
  • Clean your rain gutters.
  • Repair or put in screens on your windows and doors.

You Can Protect Your Horse

Horses can become very sick from WNV, and some will die. You can protect your horse with a yearly shot available from veterinarians or through feed and tack stores. You should clean water troughs once a week to reduce mosquito larvae.

Don't over water your pasture. This creates puddles where mosquitoes like to breed.

You Can Enjoy the Outdoors

You can still enjoy Idaho's beautiful outdoors and protect your family from harmful mosquito bites.

Hunters should not harvest or eat wild game animals that appear sick. Always wear latex or rubber gloves when cleaning and processing game and always cook meat thoroughly before eating.

You Can Report Dead Birds

Dead crows, magpies, ravens, jays, and hawks are usually an early warning sign that mosquitoes carrying WNV are in your area. If you find one of these birds, call your local Fish and Game office. By calling, you can help monitor where WNV may be. Always wear latex or rubber gloves if you handle any dead animals.

You Can Promote Community Action

Reducing mosquito breeding habitat in the community helps everyone. Reduce overwatering in parks, golf courses, and public recreation areas. Talk to your homeowners association about controlling mosquito populations in community catchment ponds. Pesticides can be extremely dangerous if not applied correctly. Application of pesticides in community settings should be left to licensed applicators, so that residents and the environment are not harmed.

Counties and communities can form mosquito abatement districts to help control mosquito populations too. Abatement districts develop effective, long-term plans to control mosquito populations and are funded through local taxation. By Idaho law, abatement districts are the only public entity that can provide area-wide mosquito control. Bingham and Bannock Counties have formed these abatement districts.

For More Information

If you go to www.westnile.idaho.gov, you can find more information about WNV and its effects on your general health, domestic and wild animals.

With any additional questions on WNV, please contact your District Health Department or your healthcare provider.

West Nile Virus Information Line: 1-877-333-WNV1 (9681)
Treasure Valley West Nile Virus Information Line: 334-6500

Download a PDF of this information here.