Guam Public Health: No Evidence of West Nile Virus on Guam

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Guam –  The Director of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS) is alerting the public that an outbreak of West Nile virus was confirmed by health authorities in the United States. The recent West Nile virus outbreak is the largest ever seen in the United States according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  To date, there is no evidence that the disease is being spread on Guam.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about four out of five people who contract West Nile virus through the bite of an infected mosquito have no symptoms.  (Mosquitoes carry the virus after they become infected from feeding on infected birds.)  However, about twenty percent of people who become infected with West Nile virus develop West Nile fever, within two to fifteen days afterward.  Symptoms include fever; headache; tiredness; body aches; possible skin rash (on the trunk of the body); and swollen lymph glands. Though the illness only lasts for a few days, there are still numbers of healthy people that have been reported being sick for several weeks.  Anyone who develops a high fever with severe headache is advised to immediately seek medical help.

The Department of Public Health and Social Services requests the community’s help in protecting themselves and their loved ones by recognizing and eliminating all sources of mosquito-breeding containers near their residences. 

This could include:

Cleaning up of all debris, especially those that can hold water.
Disposing of any loose tires.
Cleaning pet water dishes regularly.
Cleaning, emptying, properly screening or covering of containers used to store water.
Clearing roof gutters of debris.
Properly disposing of all bottles, cans, buckets and other containers that can collect water.
Plugging tree holes.
Repairing leaky outdoor faucets.
Changing the water frequently in flower vases.
Mosquito-proof the home by fixing and installing window and door screens.

The public is also advised to wear light colored, loose fitting clothing during outdoor activities as mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.  When practical, wear long-sleeves and pants when going outdoors.  Proper application of mosquito repellents that contain 20% to 30% DEET as the active ingredient on exposed skin and clothing decreases the risk of being bitten by mosquitoes.  Use repellents carefully by always following the manufacturer’s instructions for application.   

Should you have any questions, please contact the Mosquito Surveillance and Control Program of the Division of Environmental Health of this Department at 735-7221.