Back to Top Skip to main content

Summer may be gone, but West Nile Virus remains a threat

Mosquito activity is still at its peak during early fall but taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can reduce risk of West Nile Virus. (U.S. Army photo) Mosquito activity is still at its peak during early fall but taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can reduce risk of West Nile Virus. (U.S. Army photo)

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Summer has come to an end, but mosquito-borne illnesses are still a risk. Whether you’re enjoying the outdoors at home or traveling abroad, knowing where West Nile Virus can be found and taking steps to prevent mosquito bites can help reduce your risk.

“We want to keep our service members and their families safe from infection,” said Navy Lt. Cmdr. Alexandra Singer, an internal medicine provider and the chief of Preventive Health for the Defense Health Agency Occupational & Environmental Health Branch. “For West Nile Virus, the best way to reduce your risk of illness is by protecting yourself from mosquito bites.”

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne infectious disease that first appeared almost 20 years ago, according to the National Institutes of Health. While most infected people show either no symptoms or mild symptoms, 1 in 150 people will develop a severe illness which can turn fatal if it causes inflammation of the brain or the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.

The Army Public Health Center said approximately 4 out of 5 people infected with the virus show no symptoms at all, and up to 20 percent develop mild symptoms, such as a fever, headache, and body aches. Severe symptoms include a high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.

“If you become ill with symptoms such as headache, fever, muscle weakness, and disorientation, and you think you may have been exposed to West Nile Virus, the best course of action is to seek medical attention as soon as possible,” Singer warned. Symptoms usually develop three days to two weeks after being bitten by a mosquito, and can last for a few days or several weeks depending on the severity, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Singer said mosquito activity peaks from summer to early fall. Although most cases are transmitted by mosquitoes, the virus can also spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to child during pregnancy or breastfeeding, according to the CDC.

“Giving providers as many details as possible about recent whereabouts and possible exposure to mosquitoes can help them decide whether any testing is needed,” said Singer. “If the suspicion of West Nile Virus infection is high, blood is drawn to test for antibodies.” The CDC warns that if running this test within a week of exposure to the virus, results may return as a false negative, requiring repeat testing.

“There continue to be developments in trying to establish some therapeutics as well as vaccine for the West Nile Virus infection,” said Dr. Limone C. Collins Jr., chief of vaccine safety and evaluation for the DHA Immunization Healthcare Branch, adding that research is still in its early stages. “A worldwide effort to mitigate this epidemic has been underway.”

According to the World Health Organization, West Nile Virus is most commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and West Asia. The virus first appeared in the United States in 1999 and has since been detected in all 48 contiguous states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, Singer noted.

The Army Public Health Center recommends limiting mosquito contact by applying insect repellent to exposed skin, spraying clothing and supplies with permethrin, making sure windows and doors have screens, and wearing clothes that minimize skin exposure. Emptying containers – such as buckets, wading pools, and bird baths – to get rid of shallow, standing water where mosquito larva thrive can also help reduce risk for infection, said Singer.

“Knowledge is power,” said Singer. “Remaining informed and aware of any infectious disease threats or outbreaks in your environment will go a long way toward helping you reduce your risk of infection.”

You also may be interested in...

Health agencies investigating severe lung illnesses linked to e-cigarette use

Article
9/12/2019
"While the CDC investigation of the possible cases of lung illness and deaths reportedly associated with the use of e-cigarette products is ongoing, Service members and their families or dependents are encouraged not to use e-cigarette products,” advised Dr. Terry Adirim, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Health Services Policy and Oversight. (DoD photo)

Thirty-three states report 450 possible cases, six deaths

Recommended Content:

Tobacco-Free Living | Substance Abuse | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 9 - September 2019

Report
9/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Editorial: The Department of Defense/Veterans Affairs Vision Center of Excellence; Absolute and relative morbidity burdens attributable to ocular and vision-related conditions, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Incidence and temporal presentation of visual dysfunction following diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2006–2017; Incidence and prevalence of selected refractive errors, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018; Incident and recurrent cases of central serous chorioretinopathy, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2001–2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 8 - August 2019

Report
8/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Modeling Lyme disease host animal habitat suitability, West Point, New York; Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014–2018; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2003–2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Prevent mosquito-borne illness in the U.S. and overseas

Article
7/31/2019
Most mosquitoes are relatively harmless. But some can cause serious diseases

Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases no matter where you are

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Tick Facts: Dangers at the height of tick season

Article
7/31/2019
A tick like this one, seen at 10x magnification, can spread a number of dangerous pathogens during the warm-weather months. (Photo by Cornel Constantin)

Many diseases are transferred to humans by ticks — Lyme is the most common, but several others, described here, are worth knowing about

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Tick-Borne Illnesses | Health Readiness | Preventive Health | Public Health

Avoid bug bites on vacation with these TRICARE tips

Article
7/30/2019
According to the EPA, using the right insect repellent can discourage mosquitoes, ticks, and other insects from landing on you and biting you

If you’re traveling to areas where they may be a higher chance of getting malaria from mosquitoes or tick-borne diseases like Lyme disease, take steps to avoid these bugs and others.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Tick-Borne Illnesses

Zapping mosquitoes from the inside out

Article
7/29/2019
While chemical mosquito population control measures have been used with some degree of success, they are toxic to other insect populations and to the health of humans. A different angle of defense has emerged, which is genetic modification of the mosquito itself, making it transgenic. Transgenic mosquitoes are unable to transmit a pathogen, such as malaria, due to their altered genetic makeup. (DoD photo)

Mosquitoes aren’t just annoying at summer barbecues. In many parts of the world, they carry pathogens for Zika, dengue, yellow fever and malaria, the most devastating of mosquito-borne diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 440,000 people died in sub-Saharan Africa in 2016 from malaria, contracted from the bite of an infected female Anopheles mosquito. Protecting U.S. military personnel who continue to serve in this part of world is critical.

Recommended Content:

Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Zika Virus | Preventing Mosquito-Borne Illnesses | Preventive Health | Innovation | Medical Research and Development | Deployment Health

Bug Week: Mosquitoes

Video
7/22/2019
DHA Seal

What's the deadliest animal in the world? Mosquitoes! Besides leaving itchy bites, mosquitoes can also carry potentially deadly illnesses. Take steps to protect yourself.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Stop the Bleed: A battlefield innovation on civilian soil

Article
7/19/2019
USU's Dr. Craig Goolsby (center) observes as high school students at a conference in Orlando, Florida, practice using a tourniquet after watching a web-based tutorial. Goolsby is researching effective teaching methods as part of a grant to develop a trauma first-aid course for students that incorporates elements of Stop the Bleed. (USU photo by Sarah Marshall)

Program teaches public how to respond to bleeding emergencies

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Innovation | Medical Research and Development | Emergency Preparedness and Response

Bug Week Fact Sheet Dengue

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how Dengue is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Armed Services Blood Program | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Bug Week Fact Sheet West Nile

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how West Nile is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Armed Services Blood Program | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

Bug Week Fact Sheet Malaria

Fact Sheet
7/16/2019

This fact sheet, from the Armed Services Blood Program, describes how Malaria is transmitted, its signs and symptoms, and how to prevent getting the disease.

Recommended Content:

Bug-Borne Illnesses | Bug Week: July 27 - August 2 | Armed Services Blood Program | Mosquito-Borne Illnesses

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 7 - July 2019

Report
7/1/2019

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Modeling Lyme disease host animal habitat suitability, West Point, New York; Incidence, timing, and seasonal patterns of heat illnesses during U.S. Army basic combat training, 2014–2018; Update: Heat illness, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018; Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Update: Exertional hyponatremia, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2003–2018

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

Influenza

Infographic
7/1/2019
Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Adminstration of a seasonal flu vaccination. (U.S. Navy photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health

Mononucleosis

Infographic
7/1/2019
Mononucleosis

A specimen is tested for mononucleosis at the medical clinic on Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota (U.S. Air Force photo)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch | Epidemiology and Analysis | Medical Surveillance Monthly Report | Public Health
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 24

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.