How to understand the potential danger of West Nile Virus

Posted in: Covina Area Neighborhood Watch
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  • mrso
  • Respected Neighbor
  • USA
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Step1  Birds in flocks. After biting a bird infected with the West Nile Virus, a mosquito will become a carrier. This will happen when the virus enters the bloodstream of the mosquito, and eventually settles in the salivary glands. The mosquito may then pass the virus on to other birds, horses, humans, as well as other mammals. The virus was first isolated in 1937 in a woman living in the West Nile district of Uganda. How the more lethal West Nile Virus, now present in North America, made its way here, is not entirely clear. Numerous species of birds have been found to to be infected with the West Nile Virus, especially flocking birds.

Step2  Although anyone bitten by a carrier mosquito can become infected, the chance of a serious infection is small. Even those who do become ill will likely recover fully. As with most infections, those over 50, and individuals with compromised immune systems are more likely to become seriously ill.

Step3  Even though the potential for serious illness is small, it is well to know the symptoms, especially if you live or work in an area where the disease has been documented. Mild symptoms of West Nile Virus are flu-like, including mild headache, muscle aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen glands, and diarrhea. There may also be loss of appetite, fever, and rash. These symptoms will show up from 3 to 14 days after the bite. When flu season is over, these symptoms should not be overlooked, especially if you are nursing or pregnant.

Step4  High fevers require medical attention. If there is muscle weakness, high fever, severe headache or convulsions, medical attention should be sought immediately. Severe cases of West Nile Virus can result in encephalitis (inflammation of the brain itself), and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes surrounding the brain and the spinal cord) as well as inflammation of the spinal cord itself which can lead to paralysis.

Step5  If a serious case of West Nile virus is suspected, a sample of the blood or spinal fluid may be taken for confirmation. Cat scans and MRIs may also be employed to help with diagnosis.

Step6  There is at present no specific treatment for West Nile Virus. There is no vaccine for West Nile Virus. Those with severe symptoms are usually hospitalized to prevent further complications. Antiinflammatories, pain medications, and intravenous fluids, are the usual supportive treatments for West Nile Virus. Several other promising treatments are now under investigation.

Step7  Spray exposed skin and clothing to prevent mosquito bites. The only way to avoid the potentiality of West Nile Virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.
.. When outdoors, apply an insect repellent that contains Deet to your skin and clothing.
.. Cover infant carriers with mosquito netting.
.. If possible, remain indoors during dusk and early evening.
..Wear thick long-sleeved shirts and pants, treated with repellents when working in mosquito infested areas.
.. Keep all window and door screens in good repair.
.. Remove any standing water from your property, paying special attention to eaves.
.. Change the water in birdbaths and outdoor pet dishes frequently.
.. If you find ill or dying birds, do not touch them with your bare hands. Contact your local Health Department.

Step8  If you are concerned about any symptoms in yourself or other family members, especially the very young, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, see your Doctor immediately.

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