Protect yourself against West Nile virus

West Nile virus has been detected in Sedgwick County, Kan., most likely due to an excess of mosquitos as a result of all the recent rain we’ve received.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne virus (arbovirus) most commonly spread by infected mosquitoes. West Nile virus can cause febrile illness, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).

The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

  • West Nile virusWhen outdoors, use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, some oil of lemon eucalyptus or para-menthane-diol. Follow the directions on the package.
  • Many mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors
    during these hours.
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out.
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

What Are the Symptoms of West Nile virus?

Serious Symptoms in a Few People
About 1 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 will have symptoms which can include fever, headache, 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 to as long as several weeks.

No Symptoms in Most People
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not.

About Maria Loving

I am the coordinator of the Women's Connection's blog and have worked for Via Christi Health for 11 years. I'm also the mother of two boys, ages 11 & 13.
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