West Nile Virus Information
Each year, a number of birds, horses and mosquitoes in the Brazos Valley test positive for West Nile virus. On occasion, there are human cases diagnosed. The City of Bryan, in close partnership with the Brazos County Health Department, works hard to control the mosquito population in our neighborhoods.
Below is a collection of information to help you protect yourself and your family against West Nile virus and other mosquito-borne illnesses.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus is a virus commonly found in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. It is not known how long it has been in the United States, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believe the virus probably has been in the eastern United States since early summer 1999. It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other animals.
There are “Four D’s” that are described by the Texas Department of Health has things to remember to defend against West Nile Virus:
- Dusk/Dawn: The times of day you should try to stay indoors. This is when infected mosquitoes are most active.
- Dress: Wear Long sleeves and pants when you’re outside. For extra protection, you may want to spray thin clothing with repellent.
- DEET: (N, N-diethyl-m-tolu- amide) An ingredient to look for in your insect repellent. Follow label instructions, and always wear repellent when outdoors.
- Drain: Prevent standing water in your backyard and neighborhood – old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters. These are mosquito breeding sites.
City of Bryan Mosquito Abatement Program (COBMAP)
The City of Bryan’s Public Works and Neighborhood Association Partnership Program seek to partner with registered neighborhood and homeowner associations in an effort to enhance the community and quality of life. One program provides an opportunity for the city to partner with Bryan registered homeowner and neighborhood associations through the distribution of mosquito abatement products, specifically dunks and plunks, to assist with the control of mosquito populations in neighborhoods.
The goal of the program is to reduce the possibility of exposure to disease-carrying mosquitoes in an effort to minimize the contracting of serious diseases, such as West Nile virus. Realizing that the most-effective way to treat mosquitoes is for citizens to assist with eliminating or treating possible breeding grounds, the City of Bryan will distribute supplies of dunks and plunks to registered neighborhood associations to administer in their neighborhoods. Individual residents of the City of Bryan can receive plunks by visiting the Municipal Service Center at 1111 Waco Street or the Parks and Recreation office at 1309 East Martin Luther King Drive between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday.
In order for neighborhood associations to participate, a representative of the registered neighborhood association should contact the Public Works Department at 209-5900 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday-Friday. You will be asked to set an appointment time to pick up the dunks in order to allow city staff to instruct you on the proper application of the chemical and other preventative measures to help control the mosquito population.
Remember the four D’s – use insect repellants containing DEET, be sure to dump standing water which serves as a breeding ground for mosquitoes, avoid going outdoors at dusk and dawn, and wear appropriate dress when outdoors, such as long sleeves, long pants, etc.
If you find a dead bird, do not touch it with your bare hands. Contact the local health department at 979-361-4450 and report the location of the dead bird.
West Nile Virus Facts and Frequently Asked Questions
West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. This fact sheet contains important information that can help you recognize and prevent West Nile virus.
Q: What Can I Do to Prevent WNV?
A: Prevention measures consist of community-based mosquito control programs that are able to reduce vector populations, personal protection measures to reduce the likelihood of being bitten by infected mosquitoes, and the underlying surveillance programs that characterize spatial/temporal patterns in risk that allow health and vector control agencies to target their interventions and resources. The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
- When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package.
- Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
- Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.
Q: What Are the Symptoms of WNV?
A: Symptoms vary:
- Serious Symptoms in a Few People: About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
- Milder Symptoms in Some People: Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
- No Symptoms in Most People: Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Q: How Does West Nile Virus Spread?
A: Several ways, including:
- Infected Mosquitoes: Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
- Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child: In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.
- NOT through touching: WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.
Q: How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?
A: People typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
Q: How Is WNV Infection Treated?
A: There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
Q: What Should I Do if I Think I Have WNV?
A: Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.
Q: What Is the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?
A: Risk varies depending on different factors:
- People over 50 at higher risk to get severe illness: People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
- Being outside means you’re at risk: The more time you’re outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.
- Risk through medical procedures is very low: All donated blood is checked for WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
- Pregnancy and nursing do not increase risk of becoming infected with WNV: The risk that WNV may present to a fetus or an infant infected through breastmilk is still being evaluated. Talk with your care provider if you have concerns.
Q: What Is the CDC Doing About WNV?
A: CDC is working with state and local health departments and other government agencies, as well as private industry, to prepare for and prevent new cases of WNV.
Some things CDC is doing include:
- Manage and maintain ArboNET, a nation-wide electronic surveillance system where states share information about WNV and other arboviral diseases
- Support states develop and carry out improved mosquito prevention and control programs
- Developing better, faster tests to detect and diagnose WNV
- Prepare updated prevention and surveillance information for the media, the public, and health professionals
- Working with partners on the development of vaccines