To continue on with our disease awareness month, we’ll head into the leading mosquito borne illness in the continental United States, the West Nile virus (WNV for short). You may have seen that some mosquito products indicate that they protect against mosquitoes that may carry WNV or you may have avoided mosquito infested areas entirely. But what makes this virus so dangerous?
For most people, WNV has very little impact as far as symptoms go, sometimes a fever is present along with joint pain, body aches, headache, rash, diarrhea and vomiting for 1 in 5 people. Most people who experience these symptoms or this level of infection recover fully but they can sometimes experience long-term weakness/fatigue lasting for weeks or months. If you do experience fever, an over-the-counter pain reliever/fever reducer is recommended, and you’ll be on the mend in hours.
The more severe cases are worrisome, attacking the central nervous system with symptoms below:
- Since the virus attacks the central nervous system, you can expect severe symptoms to lead to stupor, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, vision loss, numbness, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.
- The virus can impact anyone of any age, for people over the age of 60 with pre-existing conditions like cancer, kidney issues, hypertension, cancer and organ transplants, are at a greater risk.
- Recovery depends upon the individual and severity, but most can expect to recover in weeks or months. Some of the impacts on the central nervous system might unfortunately be permanent though.
- In very extreme cases where people develop an illness affecting the central nervous system like meningitis or encephalitis, the virus can be potentially fatal.
As mentioned in previous blogs, there are no vaccines/treatments for WNV. Vaccines and treatments are certainly under research in many areas of the world but currently the only solution is prevention. When going outdoors, wear full length clothing covering your limbs, avoid wearing very dark or bright colors – go for light colored clothing and avoid outdoor activities in the morning or late afternoon/evening. Another solution is the use and service of Mosquito Magnet machines to eliminate mosquitoes in and around your home!
As always, take a look at our Mosquito Magnet blogs for more info and simply be prepared when traveling or at home to protect yourself and others!