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...

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 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 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. 6 - June 2019

Report
6/1/2019

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

Cyclosporiasis

Infographic
6/1/2019
Cyclosporiasis

Outbreak of Cyclosporiasis in a U.S. Air Force Training Population, Joint Base San Antonio–Lackland, TX, 2018 While bacteria and viruses are the usual causes of gastrointestinal disease outbreaks, 2 Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA)– Lackland, TX, training populations experienced an outbreak of diarrheal illness caused by the parasite Cyclospora cayetanensis in June and July 2018. Cases were identified from outpatient medical records and responses to patient questionnaires.

Recommended Content:

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

Norovirus

Infographic
6/1/2019
Norovirus

Norovirus Outbreak in Army Service Members, Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, May 2018 In May 2018, an outbreak of gastrointestinal illnesses due to norovirus occurred at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait. The outbreak lasted 14 days, and a total of 91 cases, of which 8 were laboratory confirmed and 83 were suspected, were identified.

Recommended Content:

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

Female infertility

Infographic
6/1/2019
Female infertility

Female infertility, active component service women, U.S. Armed Forces, 2013–2018 This report presents the incidence and prevalence of diagnosed female infertility among active component service women. During 2013–2018, 8,744 active component women of childbearing potential were diagnosed with infertility for the first time, resulting in an overall incidence of 79.3 cases per 10,000 person-years (p-yrs).

Recommended Content:

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

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 5 - May 2019

Report
5/1/2019

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

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens

Infographic
5/1/2019
Absolute and relative morbidity burdens

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable To Various Illnesses and Injuries, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This annual summary uses a standard disease classification system (modified for use among U.S. military members) and several healthcare burden measures to quantify the impacts of various illnesses and injuries among members of the active component of the U.S. Armed Forces in 2018.

Recommended Content:

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

Hospitalizations, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This report documents the frequencies, rates, trends, and distributions of hospitalizations of active component members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps during calendar year 2018.

Recommended Content:

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

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Ambulatory Visits

Ambulatory Visits, Active Component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2018 This report documents the frequencies, rates, trends, and characteristics of ambulatory healthcare visits of active component members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps during 2018.

Recommended Content:

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

Absolute and Relative Morbidity Burdens Attributable to Various Illnesses and Injuries, Non-Service Member Beneficiaries of the Military Health System, 2018

Infographic
5/1/2019
Morbidity Burdens

The current report represents an update and provides a summary of care provided to non-service members in the MHS during calendar year 2018. Healthcare burden estimates are stratified by direct versus outsourced care and across 4 age groups of healthcare recipients.

Recommended Content:

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

Preteens, teens target audience for HPV vaccine

Article
4/29/2019
Students from the Oceanside Unified School District enjoy team-building and mentoring activities at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. Health care experts recommend the HPV vaccine for preteens and teens to protect against human papillomavirus, which is linked to several types of cancer. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Drake Nickels)

Inoculation has 'huge potential' to reduce cancer cases

Recommended Content:

Children's Health | Public Health

MSMR Vol. 26 No. 4 - April 2019

Report
4/1/2019

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

Heat Illness

Infographic
4/1/2019
Heat Illness

This report summarizes reportable medical events of heat illness as well as heat illness-related hospitalizations and ambulatory visits among active component service members during 2018 and compares them to the previous 4 years. Episodes of heat stroke and heat exhaustion are summarized separately.

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 23

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.