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West Nile Virus – What You Need To Know


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The West Nile Outbreak of 2012 is being reported as the largest ever in the United States, and has already caused the deaths of more than 40 people.

The CDC said today that there have been 1,118 cases reported and 41 deaths to date with numbers expected to rise. Most of the cases have been reported in the state of Texas with 586 cases and 21 deaths.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS

1) Most mosquitoes are not infected with West Nile. Where there are infected mosquitoes, it is estimated that only one in 500 actually carry the virus.

2) Most people bitten by West Nile mosquitos do not get sick. According to the CDC, 80% of people bitten by a West Nile mosquito do not develop symptoms. About 20% will develop fairly mild symptoms that include fever, headaches, swollen lymph glands, and vomiting. Symptoms can last as little as a few days up to a few weeks. (Of those 20% that develop these symptoms, approximately 1% may develop the neuroinvasive West Nile Disease that can cause swelling of the brain, spinal cord and surrounding tissues… 10% of those people will die.)

3) You can help prevent the disease with “The Four D’s”.

  • Use mosquito repellant with DEET.
  • Dress in long pants, and long sleeves.
  • Take extra care at Dusk and Dawn
  • Drain any standing water, kiddie pools, buckets, puddles, etc…

4) People over 50 years of age are most at risk of becoming severely ill, and should take extra precautions to prevent bites from mosquitoes.

5) Seek medical help immediately if you have severe headaches or suffer from confusion. If you develop any symptoms of West Nile, including fever, swollen lymph glands, headache, confusion, muscle aches, vomiting, and possibly a rash on the trunk of the body, see a doctor right away. Severe illness may require hospitalization, but milder cases usually improve on their own with time.

With the very mild winter, this is now the largest West Nile outbreak in U.S. history, and the numbers will continue to climb. To date the most cases were reported in Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, with more than half being in Texas. So far this year West Nile has turned up in humans, birds, or mosquitos in 47 states, and 38 states have reported cases of the human disease. The West Nile Virus first came to the states from Africa in 1999.

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