|First cases of West Nile Virus reported in U.S. in 2008|
|Monday, 12 May 2008 08:53|
Many of us welcome the warming temperatures and emerging spring blooms with a new found innocence. The pleasant cacophony of colors breaks through the winter doldrums as many of us embrace the outdoors. Familiar sights and sounds rush forward to greet us, the chirping of birds, the staccato of the wood pecker and yes, the annoying buzz of the mosquito.
Unfortunately, mosquitoes can require more than a new swatter, they are more frequently bringing along the West Nile Virus (WNV). The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have already reported four cases of the virus this year. Last year, over 3600 cases were reported resulting in over 120 fatalities. With WNV season in its infancy, please take time to educate yourself on this growing risk.
According to the CDC, WNV is most often transmitted to humans through the bite of an infected mosquito. The virus is transferred to mosquitoes as they feed on infected birds. Although occurring less frequently, WNV has been contracted by humans via blood transfusions, organ transplants and even during pregnancy from mother to child.
People infected with WNV will usually develop symptoms between 3 to 14 days after being bitten. The infection can lead to West Nile fever, meningitis or encephalitis. Severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, convulsions, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. In some cases the neurological effects can be permanent. Milder symptoms of WNV which occur in up to 20% of infected individuals include fever, headache, body ache, nausea, swollen lymph glands or a chest rash.
At this point, no vaccine or specific treatment for WNV exists. The symptoms are handled in a variety of ways depending on their severity and hospitalization is required in some instances. Prevention continues to remain at the forefront of the defenses for the GermAware.
The most straight-forward method of avoiding WNV is to avoid the bite of the mosquito. A difficult task, especially if you like to spend much of your time on outdoor activities whether it be bike riding, hiking, gardening or just enjoying an afternoon stroll.
Fight the bite
The CDC recommends the following precautions to "fight the bite"
To learn more about these and other defenses against WNV, check out the CDC's website.
Being GermAware doesn't mean you need to barricade yourself inside your home to avoid WNV. Taking advantage of all that nature has to offer in your area is one of life's simpler pleasures. Enjoy your time outdoors with family and friends. Take the time to educate and protect yourself as well as your loved ones.
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|Last Updated ( Thursday, 15 May 2008 11:42 )|