According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of September 11, 2012, 48 states have reported finding West Nile virus in people, birds, or mosquitos. There have been 2,636 cases of West Nile infections reported in people.
West Nile virus is spread through infected mosquitoes who have fed on infected birds. If you find one or several dead birds in your area, avoid touching them or moving them. Instead, contact your local health department to report your finding. The health department will make arrangements for the birds to be collected and tested for West Nile.
“The easiest way to avoid contracting West Nile virus is to protect your skin when you are outside. So cover up or wear an insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Skin protection is essential around dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active,” said Dr. Cynthia Vanson, assistant medical director, Urgent Care of Connecticut.
Also important, is to eliminate any potential mosquito breeding grounds on your property by emptying excess water from buckets, pots, or anything else that holds standing water. Repairing or replacing any damaged screens on windows or doors will make it harder for mosquitoes to enter your home. Finally, contact your local town or city government to learn about any community-based mosquito control initiatives.
The CDC also reports that approximately 80% of people infected with West Nile virus will not experience any clinical symptoms. 20% of those infected will develop mild symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea or rash. Only 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile virus will develop a severe illness with high fevers or more serious neurological symptoms like neck stiffness, disorientation, seizures, vision problems, numbness or weakness.
“There is no specific treatment for West Nile infections. Milder illness improves on its own. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their doctor if they develop any symptoms that could indicate even a mild West Nile virus infection,” said Dr. Vanson. “If you develop non-life threatening, but acute symptoms of West Nile virus infection, such as high fever, seek medical attention from your physician or nearest Urgent Care facility.” said Dr. Vanson. “Severe West Nile illness usually requires hospitalization for supportive care. For more serious medical emergencies, such as seizures, disorientation, or vision problems, call 911.”
More information on West Nile virus is available on the CDC’s website at www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
Dr. Cynthia Vanson, Assistant Medical Director, Urgent Care of Connecticut
Urgent Care of Connecticut has locations in Brookfield, Glastonbury, Norwalk, Ridgefield and Southbury. The website is www.ucofconnecticut.com