The West Nile virus is a serious disease that is spread by the mosquito. It first was discovered in 1937 in the country of Uganda in Africa. It was discovered in the US in 1999, and has since spread around the country. This disease can be mild but it also can be deadly in some cases. Below are 10 things that you probably didn’t know about the West Nile virus.
Mosquitoes carry the disease in the highest quantities in the fall. This is why the rate of infection in humans seems to increase from late August to early September. The rate of infection also decreases as winter sets in and temperatures get colder.
Many people are bitten by the bugs that carry the virus. However, most people will never know they have been exposed. Very few people develop the disease in any serious fashion. Most people who were exposed never notice symptoms.
There are some risk factors that can increase the chances that you will develop a severe case of West Nile virus. These include illnesses that weaken your immune system, such as HIV or cancer chemotherapy; old or young age; pregnancy.
Mild symptoms of West Nile virus include pain in the abdomen, diarrhea, fever, headache, poor appetite, muscle aches, rash, nausea, sore throat, vomiting.
Some of the more severe symptoms, which can be life threatening, are often referred to as West Nile encephalitis. Symptoms include confusion, coma, muscle weakness, stiff neck, and weakness in one leg or arm.
Some of the tests that can be used to diagnose West Nile virus include a complete blood count, CT scan of the head, MRI scan of the head, lumbar puncture for cerebrospinal fluid tests.
West Nile virus is not caused by bacteria, so antibiotics are of no use to treat the infection. Regular hospital care can help to cut the risk of severe illness.
Severe forms of West Nile virus can lead to brain damage and even death. About 10% of patients who have an inflamed brain from this disease will eventually die from it.
From 1999-2001, there were 149 confirmed West Nile virus cases in the US, and 18 deaths. In 2002, there were 4,155 cases in the US and 284 deaths.
The best way to prevent the spread of this virus is through controlling the mosquito population. This includes eliminating mosquito breeding areas. Also, people are encouraged to use mosquito repellant and to wear clothing that covers as much of the body as possible.
Hopefully, by learning these 10 things that you did not know about the West Nile virus, you will be able to avoid this serious illness in the future. What do you think? Does the West Nile Virus have the capability to become a large scale Pandemic in the future?
About the Author
Robert Sanchez is a staff writer for Mphprogramslist.com, a popular portal where students can find accredited MPH Degree programs and the training resources needed to help prepare for Careers in Public Health addressing issues such as the West Nile. He regularly writes about areas within public health such as infectious disease, pandemics, epidemics, and epidemiology which are popular MPH concentrations for students in this field.
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Posted by schleef
on August 27, 2012. Filed under Health.
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