About West Nile Virus
What is West Nile encephalitis?
West Nile encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by West Nile Virus (WNV).
How is West Nile Virus transmitted?
WNV is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected from biting a bird that is carrying the virus. The mosquito can then pass the virus on to birds, humans, and other mammals. WNV cannot be spread from person-to-person.
Who can get West Nile Encephalitis?
Anyone who lives in or travels to an area where the virus is found is at a risk. Persons over 50 years of age are at highest risk for severe disease. Less than 1% of persons who become infected with the virus develop severe illness.
What are the symptoms?
Most infections result in a mild illness that resembles the flu. Symptoms include headache, fever, and body aches. Symptoms of more severe illness include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, and muscle weakness.
How is West Nile treated?
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. Mild illness usually does not require medical treatment. Encephalitis, the more severe form of WNV infection, is treated with supportive therapy. Supportive therapy may include hospitalization, IV fluids, prevention of bacterial infections, and good nursing care.
What should I do if I think I have symptoms of West Nile Virus?
Contact your family physician to discuss your symptoms. You can call the West Nile Virus Hotline for more information on testing (901-544-7503).
How Can YOU Prevent the Spread of West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is spread through the bite of infected mosquito.
LIMIT YOUR EXPOSURE TO MOSQUITOES AND LOWER YOUR RISK!
Protect Yourself from Mosquito Bites
- Apply mosquito repellent to exposed skin when outdoors. The repellent should contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toulamide). Follow all label directions carefully. Do not apply to the face or hands.
- For adults, use products with 35% DEET
- For children, use products that contain 10% DEET or less. Do not use on children under 2 years of age.
- Stay indoors or protect yourself, especially at dusk and dawn.
- If you must be outdoors at dusk or dawn, wear long sleeved shirts and long pants with socks and shoes.
- Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes can bite through thin clothing.
Get Rid of Standing Water Around Your Home
- Drain standing water to eliminate mosquito breeding.
- Empty flower pots and other containers every time it rains.
- Turn over buckets and toys that may collect water.
- Remove used tires.
- Unclog rain gutters.
- Flush bird baths every two to three days.
- Clean and chlorinate swimming pools.
- Empty pools of standing water (such as kiddie pools, boat and pool covers).
- Fix damaged or torn window and door screens.
- Close garbage can lids. Be sure water does not collect in the bottom of garbage cans or recycling bins.
- If you have a decorative pond, you can contact Vector Control to pick up gambusia minnows (901-324-5547). These minnows eat mosquito eggs and can prevent your pond from supporting mosquito breeding.
Protect Your Community
- If you see a dead crow or blue jay contact the West Nile Virus Hotline at (901) 544-7503.
- Report standing water, such as unused swimming pools, and mosquito complaints to Vector Control (901-324-5547)
What is the Health Department doing ....
- Public education
- Larval mosquito control
- Spraying to eliminate adult mosquitoes when necessary
- West Nile Virus Hotline to provide information to Shelby County residents
- Maintains up-to-date web site for more information
- Monitoring WNV activity
Shelby County Health Department Vector Control Program
2480 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38103
For More Information:
Vector (Mosquito) Control Program
Rodent Control Program