FORT SILL, Okla.-- West Nile virus is spread when people are bitten by infected culex mosquitoes, which become infected after biting diseased birds. It cannot be transmitted by person-to-person contact or from other animals.

People typically develop symptoms of the virus between three and 14 days after being bitten by infected mosquitoes.

Four out of five people who contract West Nile virus show almost no symptoms, while some people may have fever, headache and body aches, nausea, vomiting and a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks.

A small number of people develop severe symptoms, which are high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, muscle weakness, vision loss, convulsions and possible paralysis. Death can occur in older people or those with other illnesses. Symptoms can last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

There is no specific treatment for the virus. Mild symptoms like fever and aches should pass on their own. If you believe you have contracted West Nile, contact your primary care provider to make sure that the condition is not more severe than you think it is.

Dead birds help health departments track West Nile virus. If you find a dead bird, do not handle it with your bare hands. If you find the bird off-post contact your local health department. If the bird is on Fort Sill, call environmental health at 442-0160 or the preventive medicine department at 442-2269.