West Nile Virus Awareness
The US state of Texas is battling an outbreak of the West Nile virus, with 27 deaths being blamed on the mosquito-borne disease, authorities said Wednesday Aug 15th.Throughout the state, 650 + people have been sickened since the start of the year, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services.
You may have started to notice more of those swarming mosquito’s flying around. A single mosquito bite can give you West Nile virus (WNV). Improve your odds of avoiding it, use repellant.
Although many people who are bitten by an infected mosquito won’t get sick, others aren't as lucky. Almost 33,000 people in the US have been reported with WNV disease since 1999, and of those 15,000 have been seriously ill and over 1,200 have died. The older you are, the more likely that you could get severely ill if you get infected. People who have ever received an organ transplant are also at higher risk for severe disease. The reasons a person becomes severely ill and another doesn't, is unknown. There has already been multiple confirmed cases of WNV in Texas and New Mexico in 2012.
What Can I Do to Prevent WNV?
The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
• Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.
• If possible, schedule your activities to avoid the times when mosquitoes are most active, usually dawn and dusk
• Keeping a deck or porch mosquito-free is quite easy, Strategically placed floor fans providing a breeze across the area of concern will serve to keep the mosquitoes at bay,. Mosquitoes are weak fliers, and will not be able to navigate properly against or within the airstream. There is no set formula for how large a fan or how many you'll need; it's simply a matter of experimenting until you obtain the desired effect.
• If you have a deck, light it using yellow Bug Lights. These lights are not repellant, per se, but they do not attract mosquitoes like incandescent white lights. By the way, citronella candles have a mild repellent effect, but do not offer significantly more protection than other candles producing smoke.
• Dress in light colored, loose-fitting clothing. Close-weave is the best to prevent biting, but layered loose-weave works almost as well.
• CDC evaluation of information contained in peer-reviewed scientific literature and data available from EPA has identified several EPA registered products that provide repellent activity sufficient to help people avoid the bites of disease carrying mosquitoes. Products containing these active ingredients typically provide reasonably long-lasting protection:
• DEET (Chemical Name: N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide or N,N-diethly-3-methyl-benzamide)
• Picaridin (KBR 3023, Chemical Name: 2-(2-hydroxyethyl)-1-piperidinecarboxylic acid 1-methylpropyl ester )
• Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus* or PMD (Chemical Name: para-Menthane-3,8-diol) the synthesized version of oil of lemon eucalyptus
• IR3535 (Chemical Name: 3-[N-Butyl-N-acetyl]-aminopropionic acid, ethyl ester)
• You might have heard about products marketed as mosquito traps. These devices will trap and kill measurable numbers of mosquitoes. Depends whether it would produce a noticeable reduction in the mosquito population would depend on a variety of factors, including how sensitive you are how many mosquitoes there are, and even wind velocity.
What Is West Nile Virus?
West Nile virus (WNV) is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall.
What Are the Symptoms of WNV?
• 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.
How Does West Nile Virus Spread?
• Infected Mosquitoes. Most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
• Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child. In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby.
• Not through touching. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.
How Soon Do Infected People Get Sick?
People typically develop symptoms between 3 and 14 days after they are bitten by the infected mosquito.
How Is WNV Infection Treated?
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
What Should I Do if I Think I Have WNV?
Milder WNV illness improves on its own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention for this infection though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms of severe WNV illness, such as unusually severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Severe WNV illness usually requires hospitalization. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop symptoms that could be WNV.
What Is the Risk of Getting Sick from WNV?
People over 50 at higher risk to get severe illness. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
Being outside means you're at risk. The more time you're outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.
Risk through medical procedures is very low. All donated blood is checked for WNV before being used. The risk of getting WNV through blood transfusions and organ transplants is very small, and should not prevent people who need surgery from having it. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor.
1999-2011 West Nile Virus Activity in the United States
CURRENT WEST NILE POSITIVE TEST RESULTS AS OF July 2012
States and counties in yellow either did not perform surveillance or did not report any positive test results from their surveillance.
*In 2011 New Mexico had 4 cases of West Nile virus infection, all with serious neuroinvasive disease. In 2010, there were 25 confirmed cases of West Nile virus infection in New Mexico, 21 with neuroinvasive disease and 1 fatality.
For more information about West Nile Virus, including fact sheets in English and Spanish, go to the Department’s website at http://nmhealth.org/ERD/HealthData/westnile.shtml
Where is West Nile virus a problem? Almost all of the continental US has had human WNV cases. Some areas, such as those with the red dots on the map to the right, have a greater concentration of cases of severe disease than other areas. Some areas of the US are affected by other viruses such as eastern equine encephalitis virus and Lacrosse encephalitis virus.
What about mosquito control in my town/county? Integrated mosquito management helps reduce the number of mosquitoes, especially those that can carry disease. This is a crucial part of reducing the risk to humans. Mosquito control won't get rid of every last mosquito, but combined with repellent use one can markedly reduce the chances of getting bitten. Ask local officials about starting mosquito control in your city or county if it doesn't exist already.
What can I do to reduce my risk of becoming infected with West Nile virus?
A. Here are preventive measures that you and your family can take:
Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
• Apply insect repellent to exposed skin. Generally, the more active ingredient a repellent contains the longer it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of active ingredients in a repellent do not mean that your protection is better—just that it will last longer. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
o Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
o Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer's DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the product.
• Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or another EPA-registered repellent since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. When weather permits, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
• Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
• Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
• Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas outdoors where you work or play, by draining sources of standing water. In this way, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
• At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
• Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
• Remove discarded tires, and other items that could collect water.
• Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
Note: Vitamin B and "ultrasonic" devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
Something to remember: The chance that any one person is going to become ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. The risk of severe illness and death is highest for people over 50 years old, although people of all ages can become ill.
More questions about mosquito control? A source for information about pesticides and repellents is the National Pesticide Information Center, which also operates a toll-free information line: 1-800-858-7378 (check their Web site for hours).
Information provided by the CDC, NMDOH, TXDOH and National Pesticide Information Center.
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