The CDC has recently reported over 100 cases of West Nile
Virus and an increase in mosquitoes and birds infected with the virus. These
disturbing statistics mean that we must be even more vigilant in reducing
mosquito populations and our exposure to them. In this article we review
symptoms of West Nile virus discuss ways to minimize mosquito populations
around your home and decrease your risk of contracting West Nile Virus.
The majority of cases of West Nile Virus have been reported
in high mosquito breeding grounds like Louisiana, Mississippi, and now,
Illinois. Houston experts have seen a rise in occurrence in tested birds and
mosquitoes as the two come into closer contact in their searches for water
sources during this high drought period.
The CDC reports symptoms of West Nile Virus as follows:
- Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About one in 150 people
infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can
include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma,
tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and
paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects
may be permanent.
- Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people
who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches,
nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the
chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days,
though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
- No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of
people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any
symptoms at all.
The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. The mosquito becomes infected after
biting an infected bird. If you see a dead bird, you should not handle it, but
instead contact your local health department for instructions.
Use the following guidelines to minimize your exposure to infected mosquitoes:
- Reduce breeding sites for the mosquito: The mosquito needs water to lay it’s larvae,
so make certain that they is NO, nunca, nada, standing water anywhere in your area.
- Wear mosquito repellant: Use an EPA recommended mosquito repellant for
you and your family.
- Avoid being outdoors at dusk/dawn: which are mosquito high activity times and
wear dark clothing and long sleeves if you are.
- Check and double check screen and cracks around your home: Make sure that the mosquitoes cannot gain
access to you in your home by installing good screens and using weather stripping
to seal doors ways.
- Consider chemical options: Consider a mosquito misting system that can
continually keep mosquito populations down. Look into spray insecticides that
can be used in moist areas under brush and areas that are dark and moist.