Sheriff's Office

Emergency Family Preparedness - Flu Pandemics and West Nile Virus


A flu pandemic is when a new flu strain starts spreading quickly around the world. Depending on the strength of the strain, it can cause severe illness or death.

The flu spreads mainly through coughing or sneezing. People can also leave the virus on things they touch if they have the flu germ on their hands.

Flu viruses are easily spread. With modern travel, viruses can circle the globe faster than ever.

Take steps to avoid getting or spreading flu germs:

• Wash your hands often and well
• Cough or sneeze into your shoulder
• Don't share personal items
• Thoroughly cook meat, poultry and eggs
• Get available flu shots as recommended by your doctor
• Check the news. Officials will announce a pandemic or strain of flu and provide instructions.
• Support "common good" efforts. Authorities may make decisions to restrict gatherings, and ask people to stay home.

To learn more about emergency preparedness or pandemic flu go to or


What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?
West Nile Virus infection is a mosquito-borne virus. Since 1999, confirmed cases of WNV in animals and humans have occurred in all of the lower 48 states including Nevada.

How do people get West Nile Virus?
Mosquitoes feed on infected birds and pass it on to other birds, animals and people. It is not spread by person-to-person contact.

What are the symptoms?
Common symptoms of mild infections are fever, headache, body ache, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Those with a more severe infection may experience high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and death. In humans, the virus has an incubation period of three to ten days.

How can I protect myself against West Nile Virus?
While there is no recommendation to limit outdoor activity, there are certain precautions you can take if West Nile virus is found in your area:
• Limit evening outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most active.
• When you're outdoors, wear a mosquito repellent containing 20-30% DEET for adults and no more than 10% for children.
• Do not use repellent containing DEET on children under three.
• Only adults should apply repellent on a child.
• Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face.
• Only apply repellent to exposed skin and clothing.
• Do not use repellent under clothing.
• Wash treated clothes before wearing them again.
• Do not apply repellent over cuts, wounds, sunburn or irritated skin.
• Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when outdoors for long periods of time.
• Avoid perfumes and colognes when outdoors for extended periods of time.
• Repair window screens if needed and make sure window and door screens remain closed.

Source: Washoe County Health District