The Billings Outpost

West Nile deaths confirmed

The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, in collaboration with the Treasure County Health Department and RiverStone Health, have confirmed two West Nile Virus human deaths in Montana over the past week.

There have been 15 confirmed WNV cases this year.

The deceased, a Treasure County male in his 80s and a Yellowstone County male in his 70s, died of severe complications related to West Nile virus infection. The individuals had no history of travel outside the state within the past month.

“These deaths are an unfortunate reminder infection with WNV can have serious consequences,” said DPHHS Director Richard Opper. “We want to remind people to take precautions and protect themselves as the season comes to a close.”

In the U.S. this year, 890 human cases of WNV have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of these cases, 33 have died.

Most people who become infected with WNV experience no symptoms. Some individuals may develop a mild illness, called West Nile fever, which may last for three to six days.

Other individuals, fewer than 1 out of 150, may be come severely infected with West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis.  Symptoms of this disease may include headache, rash, high fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors, convulsions, coma and paralysis.

There is no treatment for WNV infection other than supportive care.

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