West Nile Virus – Your Choice

Yesterday, my grandson came home from school and stated that he and a number of other students saw a dead bird on the school’s campus. Later in the day, a phone message was sent out, to all parents and guardians, from the principle’s office. The bird was tested and found to be infected with the West Nile Virus.

West Nile Virus is spread to people and animals, such as horses, by some species of mosquitoes. Certain species of mosquitoes become infected when they bite an infected bird. West Nile Virus multiplies in wild birds. Crows and jays are especially the main reservoir of West Nile Virus.

I really didn’t know!

Infected mosquitoes spread the virus to people and horses. When a mosquito bites an infected bird; the virus enters the mosquito’s bloodstream. It circulates for days before settling in the salivary glands. When the infected mosquito bites a human or animal; the virus enters the blood stream of the person or animal. However, the virus cannot be spread through casual contact from person to person or from animal to person.

Talking About West Nile Virus..

People normally have a complete recovery from the virus infection. Older people and children can face permanent illness; which includes seizures, brain damage, paralysis, balance problems, memory loss, and tremors. People infected with the West Nile Virus may have no symptoms or very mild symptoms. Mild to moderate symptoms may cause headaches, occasionally skin rash, swollen lymph nodes, body aches, fatigue, and fever. These symptoms commonly occur 3 to 14 days of the infection enters the body. No treatment is required for mild to moderate symptoms.

West Nile virus usually takes place in the summer months in the United States. Most people who’ve the virus aren’t even aware of it. Others have mild West Nile symptoms, such as a headache, fatigue, swollen glands, skin rash, or fever. Mild cases usually go away within a few days. A person with mild symptoms can usually reduce the fever with over-the-counter medications. People who’ve had West Nile virus are usually immune for the remainder of their lives.

A life-threatening illness known as encephalitis occurs in about 1% of the people infected by West Nile virus. This illness can cause inflammation of the brain and spinal cord, and may give rise to permanent disability. Symptoms include high fever, stiff neck, convulsions, coma, and disorientation. Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor right away, so that treatment can begin as soon as possible. Hospitalization and follow-up treatments are usually required for West Nile encephalitis.

In rare cases West Nile Virus can cause death; or lead to inflammation of spinal cord, the brain, or the tissues surrounding the brain and the spinal cord. Inflammation of the brain is called encephalitis; inflammation of the spinal cord is called myelitis; inflammation surrounding the tissues of the brain and spinal cord is called meningitis. A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test maybe done to identify encephalitis.

It is the complications that present the most serious problems including death. Those being high fever, loss of vision and paralysis and in the worst scenario west nile encephalitis, (inflammation of the brain) meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and/or spinal cord) or poliomyelitis.

Older people stand the greatest risk of developing complications from the West Nile Virus infections. People between 50 and 59 years of age are 10 times more apt to get infected than a much younger person. People 80 and older are 43 more likely to become infected. People over 70 years of age are at a greater risk of death from the virus infection.

Very few people who’re bitten by infected mosquitoes will become severely ill. About 80% of people infected by the virus have no symptoms.

There’s no specific treatment for the west Nile Virus infection in humans. Intravenous fluids (IV) are used in hospitals to assist with breathing and to prevent pneumonia. The hospital can mostly give supportive care, such as IV, to help fight the virus on its own. A vaccine is available for horses.

If you’re in an area where West Nile Virus has been identified or around mosquitoes; you can help reduce the risk of West Nile Virus infection; by using insect repellent with Deet (20% to 45 per cent is most effective). Wear long sleeved shirts/tops. Wear long pants or longer skirts. Avoid shorts and short pants. Do not leave standing water lying around; water is a breeding place for mosquitoes.

West Nile Virus usually occurs during warm or hot weather; this is when mosquito populations are very high.

In rare cases; West Nile Virus can be spread through organ transplantation and blood transfusion from infected donors. Blood donor screening for the virus instituted in 2003. Donated organs aren’t yet screened for the virus.

In 2002 there was a rare instances where the virus was sent to an unborn baby by an infected mother. The baby had severe damage to parts of the brain and retinal problems.

Mothers have transmitted the viruses to babies while breast feeding. Such cases are extremely rare, said the experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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