Community Health


West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness most often spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is not transmitted from person-to-person. You cannot get it from touching or kissing a person who has the virus or from a health care worker who has treated someone with it.

WNV can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses, and some other mammals. Human WNV cases are more common in late summer and early fall but can occur in any mild climate.

Most people infected with the West Nile virus have no symptoms of illness. If symptoms do occur, the most common are: a mild illness with fever, headache and body aches, sometimes with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. WNV may under some circumstances cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain). The syptoms of encephalitis may include headache, high fever, stiff neck, change in mental status, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

If you have symptoms of encephalitis, call or visit your clinician as soon as possible for assessment.

There is no vaccine or treatment for WNV infection. Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to avoid infection:

  • Apply insect repellent containing DEET (look for N,N-diethyl-metatoluamide on the label) or permethrin to skin and clothing when going outdoors.
  • See Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidance on How to Use Insect Repellents Safely.
  • Wear long sleeves, pants, and socks, if possible.
  • Maintain window and door screening to keep mosquitoes out of buildings.

Treating mosquito breeding sites helps prevent spread of WNV. Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water. Examples of breeding sites include flower pots, pet bowls, clogged rain gutters, buckets, barrels, or cans. It takes about 1 week for eggs to mature, so it’s important to eliminate breeding sites at once. Dead birds may be a sign that WNV is circulating between birds and mosquitoes in an area.

Report possible mosquito breeding sites and dead birds on UCSD property:

  • Report mosquito breeding sites to:
    • Plant Building and Grounds Services
      Pest Management Services
      109 E. Madison
      Ann Arbor, MI 48104, or
      Phone: (734) 764-0532 or (734) 647-2059
  • Dead birds:
    • If found on campus:
      • Contact UM Plant Services at: (734) 647-2059
    • If found off-campus:
      • Complete the State of Michigan Sick or Dead Bird & Mammal Reporting Web Form, or Phone: (888) 668-0869
      • The above form may also be completed on the Washtenaw County Health Department West Nile Virus Informational Site
        Phone: (734) 544-6750

Additional Information

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