I was watching CNN a few days ago when I heard the news anchor say that the West Nile virus is at its worst in 8 years. He went on to say that 80% of the cases are found in states including Texas and Mississippi.
This got me to wondering what people actually know about the West Nile virus, its cause, prevention and treatment. So here I am today sharing a bit of info just to keep you up to speed with this menacing disease.
You may remember that the West Nile virus first showed up in the United States back in 1999, in the state of New York. The source is believed to have come from the Middle East. This is because a strain of the disease was the identical strain found in goose on an Israeli farm in 1998.
The cause of infection: People can become infected after being bitten by a mosquito that is infected with the disease. The misquotes become infected after feeding on birds that are infected with the West Nile virus. A person will usually see symptoms of the disease 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected misquote.
Symptoms of the West Nile virus:
Mild symptoms include headache, fever, body aches and sometime swollen lymph nodes. feeling fatigued, a loss of appetite, upset stomach, and a body rash. These symptoms will last only for about 3 to 6 days before a complete recovery.
Severe symptoms include all of the symptoms found in the mild form of the disease,plus: high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, coma, tremors, occasional convulsions, paralysis, and death.
The death rate is about 5 to 15% but is higher among the elderly.
The risk of infection: The risk of getting the infection is higher during the summer months to the early fall season. In the southern climates, the infection can occur all year round because of the high misquote population. During the cold climate, the risk factor is nonexistent.
The West Nile virus can also spread through an organ transplant and through a blood transfusion. Because of this, all blood that is donated in the United States is checked for the presence of the virus, and must receive a negative finding before it can be used.
Treatment: Currently, there is no antibiotic available for the treatment of the West Nile virus. Also, there has not been a vaccine developed for prevention. Treatment for the West Nile virus is focused on complications from infection in the brain. Such infections include swelling of the brain (encephalitis), swelling of the spinal cord (myelitis), or swelling of the tissues around the brain and spinal cord (meningitis)
Methods of prevention: From what I can determine, the most common ways to prevent getting the West Nile virus would be to use insect repellent when you go outside in the late spring, summer. You should spray your clothes with the insect repellent also in order to prevent the mosquitos from biting through your clothes. Wear long-sleeved shirts and pants when you know that you will be in an area where lots of mosquitoes are populated. Also, do not leave open containers of water near your house, because mosquitoes will breed there. When possible, stay inside during dawn, and dusk hours because mosquitoes are most active at these times.
Finally, most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will have a full recovery, and will only experience mild symptoms. However permanent health problems may occur for some people (mostly elderly); such as seizures, brain damage, and memory loss. The West Nile virus can be fatal, and the people who are infected that are older than 70 years old have the greatest risk of dying from the disease. It is important to comply with the methods of prevention, and you will most likely have a better chance of not getting the virus at all. Healthy trails to you.