Montana health officials are reporting this season’s first human cases of West Nile Virus. Reported in Custer and Lewis and Clark counties, both occurred in people over the age of 60, who are typically at greater disease risk.
State epidemiologist Stacey Anderson says it’s a common time of year to see West Nile cases.
"There’s a lot of factors that plays into what kind of season we have, and we’re still trying to understand that with each new year. Obviously weather plays a factor and how wet or dry the season is prior to when mosquitoes emerge."
Montana averages 37 cases of West Nile per year, though numbers can fluctuate wildly from single digits into the hundreds. There were a total of 51 human cases last year, including one death.
Effects also vary significantly. Only 1 in 5 infected with the virus get symptoms, but 1 in 150 can develop serious nervous system issues.
With the holiday weekend coming up, Anderson advises proactive protection. That includes using insect repellant, wearing long clothes and draining nearby standing water.