Extension Ag Update
September/October 2001
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West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus has recently emerged in North America as a threat to both public and animal health. West Nile (WN) virus has emerged in recent years in temperate regions of Europe and North America, presenting a threat to public, equine, and animal health. Since first being found in 1999 in the northeastern part of the United States it has slowly spread towards the South and West. In August, a crow found in southeastern Marion County tested positive for the West Nile virus, indicating that the disease has spread to Indiana.

You can lessen your risk from this virus by minimizing your exposure to mosquitoes. Wearing long sleeves and pants in mosquito-infested areas, using repellants that contain DEET, and limiting your activities at dawn and dusk will all help minimize your risk. Eliminating areas of standing water so that mosquitoes can not lay their eggs near your home will help limit your exposure to mosquitoes.

Symptoms of this virus usually appear 5-15 days after being bit by an infected mosquito. Human symptoms include: high fever, headache and bodyaches, skin rash, swollen lymph glands, neck stiffness, disorientation and convulsions. The most serious symptom of WN virus infection is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses. It can kill certain domestic and wild birds. People with a fever or who don't feel well after a mosquito bite are urged to call a doctor.

The NAL web site links to comprehensive information sites on West Nile Virus maintained by credible sources, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of the Interior/U.S. Geological Survey's invasive species program. The sources provide information about disease transmission, susceptibility and prevention for humans and livestock, along with detailed descriptions of federal, state and local government disease surveillance and control activities. Further information can be found at:

West Nile Virus Factsheet