Health Program

 West Nile Virus

Definition


West Nile is an infectious organism that is capable of causing fatal neurological disease in various species including: birds, horses and humans.


Cause


Mosquitoes first get the virus when they feed on the blood of an infected bird. One to two weeks after feeding on the infected bird the virus is ready to be transmitted to another organism through the salivary glands of the mosquito. With every bite the mosquito injects saliva therefore transmitting the virus. Birds are the only animals that are able to circulate enough of the virus in the blood to infect mosquitoes. Humans and other animals do not circulate enough of the virus in the blood to infect mosquitoes.


Risk Groups


  • People over 50. People that are over 50 are at higher risk to develop serious symptoms of WNV. These people should take special care to prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes.

  • Anyone who is outside is at risk. The more often you are outdoors the more likely you are to get bitten by an infected mosquito.

  • The risk of contracting it is very low through medical procedures.


Symptoms


Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected will not show any symptoms at all. Milder symptoms include: fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands, or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Serious symptoms include: fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis.


Treatment


There is no specific treatment for WNV. In cases when a person has milder symptoms such as fever and headache the symptoms pass on their own. In more severe cases the people usually have to go to the hospital where they can receive support treatments such as intravenous fluids, and help with breathing, and nursing care.


Prevention


The easiest way to prevent WNV is to prevent getting bitten by Mosquitoes here are some ways to prevent bites:


  • Use insect repellent while outdoors that contains an EPA- registered active ingredient

  • Avoid going outside between dusk and dawn. This is when mosquitoes are most active. If you are going to be outdoors between these times use long sleeves and pants.

  • Make sure to have good screens on your windows to keep mosquitoes out of your house

  • Get rid of any standing water from flower pots, buckets or barrels. Change water in your pet's water dish and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Keep children’s wading pools empty when they are not being used. All of these things can be used for mosquito’s breeding grounds.

  • There have been 4180 cases of West Nile Virus in the United States

  • Of the 4180 cases there have been 149 fatalities

  • In Texas alone there have been 327 cases and 29 fatalities


Sources


CDC


West Nile Virus