West Nile Virus - Self Care Guide
Caring for yourself if you have West Nile Virus (WNV)
About the virus
- West Nile virus causes a disease that is usually transmitted to humans and other animals by the bite of an infected mosquito.
- WNV is transmitted to mosquitoes after they bite infected birds.
- You cannot catch the virus from another person.
- West Nile virus infection is diagnosed by a blood test which generally does not test positive until a week or more after you have become ill
- Infected persons should not donate blood or organs until they have recovered
- Do not donate blood to determine if you have wWest nNile virus. (for more information on donating blood, go to: http://www.larimer.org/health/cd/wnv_symptoms.htm)
When to call your health care provider
- If you are experiencing a severe headache, stiff neck, or a high fever (over 103 degrees)
- If you have severe pain, confusion, delirium, tremors, convulsions, profound muscle weakness or paralysis
- If you have 2 or more days of vomiting or cannot keep fluids down.
- If you have not improved in 3-6 days
What to expect during your illness
- WNV illness, if it occurs, will appear from 3-14 days after a bite from an infected mosquito
- Up to 30% of infected people will have West Nile Fever (a flu or mono-like form of the illness). Most people who are infected have slight or no symptoms.
- 1 in 150 of infected people get a very serious form of WNV (encephalitis, meningitis) with fever, fatigue, paralysis, disorientation and tremors
- There is no vaccine or cure for WNV in humans at this time
- The best treatment is fluids, rest, fluids, aand pain control
Drink plenty of fluids including water, juice, tea, and sports drinks, and eat small meals. Treat headaches/muscle pain with non-prescription pain relievers (aspirinacetaminophen, ibuprofinibuprofen, etc) according to product directions. It is very important not to exceed the recommended dose.
Consult your health care provider if you are not getting sufficient pain relief. Rest to allow adequate time for the body to heal. This will most likely mean time off from work. Recurrences of symptoms and delayed recovery are more likely with insufficient fluid replacement and not enough rest.
How to protect your family
- Wear an effective mosquito repellant, one that has been approved by the CDC or the EPA as effective against West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes. Use repellent only as directed. Only use what you need. If you need to be outside, wear long sleeves and long pants in addition to mosquito repellant. (see chart)
- Eliminate standing water in rain gutters, plants, fountains, outdoor items and children's playground equipment
- Avoid spending time outside between dusk and dawn
For more information
Call the toll-free Colorado helpline: 1-877-462-2911
Visit these websites:
The following chart can help you determine the best repellent for your situation. Remember: always read the label. Products containing premethrin are intended to be used on clothing and/or gear, but not to be applied directly to skin.
|Sawyer Controlled Release (slow release over hours)
||up to 20 hours|
|OFF! Deep Woods
||up to 8 hours|
|Repel Lemon Eucalyptus Insect Repellent
||Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus
||up to 6 hours|
||up to 4 hours|
|Bite Blocker for Kids
|OFF! Skintastic for Kids
|Skin-so-Soft Bug Guard Plus
||Citronella, Peppermint Oil,
||Cedar Oil, Lemongrass Oil
|Green Ban for People
||Citronella, Peppermint Oil
|Skin-so-Soft Bug Guard
|Skin-so-Soft Moisturizing Suncare
Products containing DEET, oil of lemon eucalyptus, and picaridin are registered with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Products containing citronella oil and IR3535 have met applicable standards of the EPA.
For more detailed information on repellents, visit the following websites:
Information for this fact sheet adapted from the Centers for Disease Control.