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West Nile Virus

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Survive Outdoors Update on West Nile Virus
August 11, 2002

Within one year’s time the West Nile Virus has spread from the east coast to the central states. There have been documented cases of the West Nile Virus occurring in humans in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Illinois and New York.

It is important to note that the West Nile mosquito does not typically reside near rivers, lakes and streams, but prefers stagnant pools of water. Precautions can be taken by removing stagnant water around your home area. Take a walk around your home and yard. Water that is pooling in old tires or flowerpots should be dumped out. Decrease outdoor activity at dawn or dusk, when mosquitoes are most prevalent. However if outside during that time, mosquito repellant with up to 35% Deet is recommended (please use no more than 25% in children under 7 years of age, or the elderly).

We need not start to panic! However, vigilant concern is appropriate. Your risk of contracting the West Nile Virus at this point is still less than 1%, despite the amount of cases that have been reported. Many sub-clinical cases of West Nile Virus, which have not advance to full-blown encephalitis, may go unnoticed and therefore unreported.

Because West Nile is a Virus and not bacterial infection, there is no effective treatment at this point in time. No vaccine is available. Pets can contract the West Nile Virus, but they cannot transmit this to humans.

There is a blood test available to determine whether or not one has been exposed to the West Nile Virus, by testing whether antibodies to the Virus are present in the blood. This is a specific West Nile antibody test for IGG/IGM Immunoglobulin. You can ask your health care provider about this test.

For more in depth information on the, go to www.cdc.gov and click on West Nile Virus. Their toll free telephone number is 888-246-2675.

We will keep you updated with the latest information on the continued spread of the West Nile Virus.

Dan Williams, Psy.D., PA-C

West Nile Virus News from 2001

The West Nile Virus is 98% fatal to the American Crow. If you spot a dead crow or group of dead crows, you need to call your County Health Department. There is no evidence that this Virus can be obtained by handling live or infected birds. However the disease is transmitted through mosquitoes, not any other insect. The symptoms of West Nile Encephalitis, which is a Virus that affects the brain, usually occurs 3-15 days after a mosquito bite and includes fever, headache, body aches, occasional skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Severe infections can lead to high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, and muscle weakness. Most infections are mild, but death is possible in extremely rare cases. There have been 9 reported deaths in the Northeastern area of the United States, not in the Midwest. Elderly individuals are at greater risk. It is believed that the West Nile Virus started in the New York City area, where most likely an exoticbird infected with the Virus was brought over from another country and smuggled in. Crows have tested positive for the West Nile Virus in New Jersey this year, and it has been tracked as far south as North Carolina. The Virus also affects backyard birds. Blue Jays and Blue Birds can be affected.

Some tips to keep mosquitoes away: It is important to use mosquito repellants. Repellants containing 30% Deet should be effective in repelling mosquitoes. Mosquitoes find human beings by smelling out the carbon dioxide that we exhale from our bodies. It is pretty well worthless to use mosquito repellants on clothing. It is best to use directly onto the body surfaces. You do not want anything over 30-35% Deet, as in many cases, it could cause a dermatologic response (rash). Mosquitoes are more prevalent evenings where the winds are calm, as well as at dusk.

There is no need to panic if proper precautions are taken when spending time outdoors. Along with mosquito repellant, Citronella candles, definitely create an odor that repells mosquitoes. You can find more information on the West Nile Virus on the Web, at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention site, http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qna.htm

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