(AscendHealthy.com) – West Nile Virus (WNV) has struck numerous US states this year, according to the CDC, including California, Texas, Florida, Arizona and New Mexico. People in nearly every region are vulnerable; anywhere mosquitoes live, this insidious disease can lurk. Prevention strategies can only reduce the potential for exposure, so it’s important to know disease symptoms as well. Here’s what you need to know.
West Nile Virus, spread mostly by infected mosquitoes, is a potentially life-threatening illness that’s becoming increasingly common in the United States. While there are possibly a couple of safe zones, few people are at zero risk of catching this disease. Prevention strategies are always a good idea, but knowing the symptoms can ensure prompt help if the virus does strike. See the article below for details on avoiding and identifying West Nile Virus.
Here’s What You Need to Know About West Nile Virus.
What Is West Nile Virus?
The CDC lists WNV as the most common mosquito-borne disease in the United States. Cases peak annually with the mosquito season, so people are most likely to catch it during the summer or fall. The majority of cases don’t cause any symptoms, but one in five people who catch it will develop a mild illness. Symptoms typically include fever, headache, vomiting, muscle and joint pain, rash and fatigue.
About 1 in every 150 cases becomes far more serious when the disease progresses into the nervous system. This is more common in people over 60 years old and those with certain chronic illnesses. Sufferers develop inflammation in the brain or the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord, resulting in fevers, headaches, neck stiffness, confusion, numbness, blindness and paralysis. Sufferers may be visibly disoriented, and they might display a tremor or experience convulsions. Rare cases lead to coma, and roughly 1 in every 10 severely ill patients will die.
WNV Hot Spots
So far this year, West Nile Virus has hit several US states. According to the most recent CDC reports, the virus is in California, Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Texas — but it can hit anywhere mosquitoes are present. Idaho News just added two cases to its state, and Chicago Tribune just reported about one in Illinois. Based on previous years, it’s very likely that the list of states will more than double before the mosquito season is over. No matter where they are, never take for granted that the mosquitoes in any given area are safe.
Mosquito Prevention Strategies
The best way to avoid mosquito-borne infections is to control the population of mosquitoes in and around the home. Check for any pools of standing water, where mosquitoes are likely to lay their eggs. Common mosquito breeding grounds include buckets, planters, spare tires, birdbaths and pools, but the pesky insects will lay their eggs near any still or stagnant water. Use a larvicide on pools that are impossible to remove or cover and aren’t a source of drinking water. Keep adult mosquitoes out of the home by keeping screens in good condition or keeping doors and windows securely closed.
Cover up as much as possible to make skin less accessible, and use an EPA-registered repellant when going anywhere mosquitoes are present. Look for one or more of the following active ingredients: DEET, IR3535, 2-undecanone, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol. Anything else might not be effective enough. Be aware that people can also catch WNV via blood transfusion, and the virus can spread from mother to child.
West Nile Virus is a growing threat, and each of us needs to be aware of the real dangers mosquitoes can pose. While serious cases are rare, this virus is nothing to play around with. A few extra precautionary measures now could prevent serious and painful devastation in the future.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension
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