West Nile Virus, or The Problem With Mosquitoes


“Mosquitoes remind us that we are not as high up on the food chain as we think.”

–Tom Wilson (American actor, writer and comedian)

So far in Texas this summer, only 2 human cases of West Nile Virus has been reported.  However, the period when most people get infected is from July-September. Please keep in mind the following facts:

What is West Nile Virus (WNV)?

  • WNV is a virus most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes
  • WNV can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord)

How do humans get infected?

  • Most people get infected with West Nile virus by the bite of an infected mosquito
  • Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds
  • Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals
  • Rarely, it can be spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding

What are the symptoms?

  • No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms and will never have any problems.
  • Fever in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
  • Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis.


What can you do to protect yourselves and your children against WNV?

The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites:

  • Use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
  • Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.
  • Install or repair screens on windows and doors. If you have it, use your air conditioning.
  • Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.


For more info, go to http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.html





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