West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus Activities
Insects can not only be annoying during humid, summer months, but they can also carry harmful diseases. Some mosquitoes carry West Nile virus which can be spread to humans and cause illness. Since 2003, Public Health Solutions District Health Department has conducted West Nile tracking activities and has provided prevention education each summer. West Nile Virus activity is tracked by using mosquito traps in select areas and by collecting dead birds for lab testing.
West Nile Virus Health Information:
West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) most often spread by infected mosquitoes. West Nile virus can cause serious illness. It was first found in North America in 1999, and has since spread across the continental U.S.
Most people get infected with West Nile virus by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. The risk of infection is highest for people who work outside or those who take part in in outdoor activities because of greater exposure to mosquitoes. In a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, birth, or breastfeeding. People with certain health problems, such as cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease are also at greater risk for serious illness.
If bitten by an infected mosquito, people normally develop symptoms of West Nile virus between two days and two weeks later. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that about 80% of human infections of West Nile virus cause no symptoms, while 20% cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, weakness, headache, and muscle or joint pain. A small number of people (less than 1%) will have severe neurological illness including headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis which may last for many weeks or months and cause permanent neurological damage. About 10% of those who develop neurological symptoms will die.
The best way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites:
- Use insect repellents (bug spray) when you go outdoors. Those which DEET, picaridin, IR3535, and some oil of lemon eucalyptus and para-menthane-diol products provide longer-lasting protection.
- Wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn when many mosquitoes are most active.
- Install or fix screens on windows and doors. If you have it, use your air conditioning.
- Help lower the number of mosquitoes around your home. Empty standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths.
West Nile virus prevention activities are possible through funding provided by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services.
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