The West Nile Virus Spreading

Over the past ten years there have been over thirty thousand cases of West Nile virus reported in the United States. Of these, there have been over two hundred deaths. West Nile virus causes both neuroinvasive and non-nueroinvasive disease and is considered a seasonal epidemic in North America. West Nile virus is typically contracted when a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. The mosquitoes contract West Nile virus when they feed on infected birds. Thus, never handle a dead bird with your bare hands.

Symptoms of West Nile virus typically surface in three to fourteen days. Almost eighty percent of people bitten by an infected mosquito show no symptoms at all. Twenty percent experience flu like symptoms such as headache, nausea, vomiting, fever, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, and skin rashes. However, approximately .5% of infected people with West Nile virus face high fever, vision loss, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, coma, and paralysis for several weeks. Although there is not a specific treatment, many symptoms of the West Nile virus will pass on their own while other require hospitalization. The hospital treatment usually consists of IV fluids, respiratory assistance, and nursing care.

Preventing mosquito bites is the best way to prevent coming into contact or spreading West Nile virus. Avoid being outdoors between dusk and dawn; however, if you are going to be outdoors during this time period, try using an insect repellant. Ensure that your windows and doors have screens and empty any standing water in your yard.

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