West Nile Virus

Last updated: January 6, 2023

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What is West Nile Virus?

mosquito imageWest Nile Virus is carried by mosquitoes and can be passed to humans through a bite. The virus can affect the nervous system. Individuals are encouraged to take measures to avoid mosquito bites (Tips to Avoid Mosquito Bites). It is also important to reduce the number of mosquitoes by ridding their property of standing water where mosquitoes may breed. Birds can also be infected by the virus. To dispose of a dead bird, avoid bare-handed contact. Use gloves or an inverted plastic bag to place the bird carcass in a garbage bag and dispose of it with your routine trash.

What are the symptoms of infection?

Most individuals infected with West Nile virus will not have any symptoms or signs of illness. People who do develop illness may experience symptoms that seem like a mild flu. These symptoms may include a low fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Symptoms generally appear 2 – 14 days following the bite of an infected mosquito.

Who is most vulnerable to more serious effects?

People 60 years of age and older have the highest risk of developing the more severe disease with symptoms such as high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, convulsions, paralysis and, rarely, death.

What can I do to reduce my risk?

Avoid areas with mosquitoes. When outdoors, wear long pants and long-sleeved clothing and spray arms and legs with an insect repellent. See repellent recommendations. Eliminate any standing water around your home where mosquitoes may breed. Repair any damaged window screens.

What agency provides community spraying?

Within its resource limits, the Maryland Department of Agriculture provides spraying and community mosquito control services. For more information about mosquito control and newly scheduled spraying activities, visit the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) website. See MDA Spraying Program Community List (PDF). County residents interested in mosquito control services in their communities should call MDA at 410-841-5870. Also see Tips to Rid Your Community of Mosquito Breeding Sites.

How do I report complaints about standing water in my neighborhood?

To report complaints about standing water, call the Anne Arundel County Department of Health at 410-222-7192 or Contact Us.  Standing water complaints related to residential swimming pools and ponds are usually handled from May 1 through October 31.

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