What’s the Buzz? 
Everything You Need to Know About West Nile Virus

Posted on July 17, 2019

Category: Causes and Prevention

Summer is well underway, which means many people are swapping the extra jacket in their bags for a bottle of sunscreen and a can of bug spray. The sunscreen will help you avoid a nasty sunburn, but the bug spray is the real summertime MVP. Our warmer weather comes hand-in-hand with mosquitos, bug bites and West Nile Virus. Do you know how to keep yourself safe?

Read on to learn more about West Nile Virus and how to avoid it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile Virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States, with 73 cases reported in South Dakota in 2017. Luckily, most people who are infected with the virus experience no symptoms. But, for those who do, the results can be fatal. Knowing this, it’s important to know the symptoms and proper prevention techniques to keep yourself safe.


West Nile Virus comes with a laundry list of symptoms that may make it difficult to distinguish from other conditions. Though some of the symptoms may not seem very severe, it’s important to visit a doctor if you suspect there is a possibility you may have WNV. The virus’ most common symptoms are:

  • High Fever
  • Headaches
  • Body Aches
  • Nausea
  • Neck Stiffness
  • Vomiting
  • Stupor
  • Swollen Lymph Glands/Skin Rash
  • Disorientation
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Tremors
  • Vision Loss
  • Convulsions
  • Coma
  • Paralysis

Staying Safe

Because West Nile Virus is transmitted through mosquitos, it can most effectively be prevented by avoiding unnecessary contact with mosquitos. If you’re going to be in a situation where you’ll be exposed to the infamous blood-sucking bugs, it’s important to take steps to avoid getting bitten. Here are a few tips to help you steer clear of mosquitos this year:

  • Use Bug Repellents

Bug spray is an incredibly effective tool that works to make sure mosquitos want nothing to do with you. More specifically, make sure you’re using a repellent that contains DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol.

  • Know When to Worry

Mosquitos are generally active when the sun is down—from dusk until dawn. If you plan to be outside in mosquito territory during this time, remember your repellant and pack long sleeves and pants.

  • Check Your Screens

It may come as a shock to some, but mosquitos are small—very small. Because of their small stature, they are particularly adept finding their way through even the smallest tears in the screens on your doors and windows. Make sure to check your screens for tiny tears before each mosquito season.

  • Eliminate Standing Water

Mosquitos use standing water to breed. If you have any outdoor containers that may be holding stagnant water—such as flower pots, buckets, barrels or bird baths, make sure to change the water out regularly or empty it altogether.

Mosquitos are a menace, and West Nile Virus is a serious illness with potentially fatal symptoms. Do your best to avoid WNV while outdoors this summer and, if you start to experience any of the symptoms listed above, see a doctor immediately.