WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 24, 2013, 05:00 PM

Local agencies on the lookout for West Nile Virus

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We're on track for a bad year for West Nile Virus, according to Cass County Vector Control.

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - We're on track for a bad year for West Nile Virus, according to Cass County Vector Control.

Three pools of mosquitoes have strongly tested positive for the virus in the Fargo area, and Vector Control is now on High Alert. The mosquitoes came from traps on the north, far south, and center part of town.

Vector Control will now take extra precautions, and so should you.

Ben Prather - Cass County Vector Control: "More than likely, if you're getting bit by a mosquito, that one has the potential to carry the West Nile Virus."

That news has Don Santer and his wife Nancy on alert, but not in a panic.

Don Santer - Still Enjoying the Outdoors: "We do have bug spray if needed."

They're not letting the news stop them from enjoying their day, having lunch and a bike ride at Lindenwood Park.

Don Santer: "If it happens, hey, we deal with it, but Iā€™m not going to change my life and not go outside because of it."

The person who is on high alert is Ben Prather with Cass County Vector Control. He says judging by the conditions he's seen, we're on track to meet or exceed 2012's numbers. Last year, there were 5,674 reported cases in the United States. Eighty-nine of those were in North Dakota, 8 in Cass County.

Ben Prather: "We've returned to more normal conditions with the drought we were in last year, and that creates ample conditions or ideal conditions for mosquitos to breed/ With the heat and humidity those types of things that we've seen over the weeks really help that amplify."

We're about two weeks ahead of schedule; West Nile Virus usually isn't detected until August.

Ben Prather: "It indicates that there's you know pretty significant West Nile activity occurring out there."

Vector control will be doing more ground and aerial spraying in the coming days, but Prather says the most important thing you can do is personal protection.

Ben Prather: "Applying DEET containing repellents, you know, trying to avoid unnecessary excursions outside during dusk and dawn without any sort of protection, wearing long sleeves."

Prather and his team will continue to test and track the infected pests to hopefully keep people, like the Santers, safe from the pesky blood suckers.

One human case has been reported in Grant County. The worst year for West Nile in North Dakota was 2003. There were 617 human cases, with 5 deaths. 2007 ranks 2nd, almost 370 cases with 3 deaths.

If you're infected with West Nile, you could start to see symptoms within 2 days, but it could take 2 weeks. Symptoms include fever, aches and pains, and headache.

The most at risk of a serious infection are the young, the elderly, and those with a weakened immune system.

Sanford's Chief Of Infectious Disease, Dr. Augusto Alonto, says there's no cure for West Nile, and treatment is symptom specific.

Dr. Augusto Alonto - Sandford Chief Of Infections: "Medications to reduce the fevers, IV fluids if people are dehydrated, and pain medication if they have a lot of aches and pains."

Last year, there were 286 deaths from the virus in the United States. If you have symptoms, you should see a doctor.