West Nile Virus (WNV) is an emerging infectious disease first discovered in Uganda in 1937. Now commonly found in Africa, West Asia, Europe and the Middle East, it was identified for the first time in the Western Hemisphere in the New York City area in 1999. In early spring 2000, it reappeared in birds and mosquitoes and spread to other parts of the eastern United States. By 2004, the virus was found in birds and mosquitoes in every state except Alaska and Hawaii. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in summer and continues into fall, and they consider it a threat to public and animal health.
More than 1,100 cases of WNV in humans were reported in the United States in 2012, the highest number of cases reported since it was first detected here. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the majority of cases originate in five states: Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma, with almost half reported in Texas.
The virus infects humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and other mammals such as dogs and cats. Most often spread to humans from the bite of an infected mosquito, the virus passes into a person’s bloodstream, where it may cause serious illness. In a very small number of cases, WNV has spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother to baby. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.
Not all mosquitoes carry the virus that causes West Nile, and approximately 80 percent of people infected with it don’t experience any signs or symptoms, or may experience minor ones. Some individuals, such as those over 50, organ transplant recipients and those with weakened immune systems, are at increased risk for severe WNV illness. Laboratory workers, field and clinical workers who examine and perform necropsies on infected birds or handle WNV-infected tissue or fluids are at risk if their skin is penetrated or cut. If you work or spend time outdoors — especially from July through September and particularly in Midwestern and Southern states — you have a greater chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.
Diagnosis is based on the patient’s clinical assessment, history of present illness, places and dates of travel, activities and epidemiologic history of the location where the infection occurred. Blood work is tested for the WNV antibody. A lumbar puncture may also be performed. A brain CT or MRI may be ordered to check for inflammation of the brain or the tissue surrounding the brain and spinal cord.
Mild symptoms typically develop three to 14 days after an individual has been bitten and may include fever, head and body aches, nausea, vomiting and sometimes swollen lymph nodes or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last from a few days to several weeks.
However, about one in 150 people infected with WNV develop severe illness. Symptoms include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects could be permanent.
In severe cases, the person is admitted to the hospital for supportive care and treatment with intravenous fluids, medications, oxygen, airway management, nutrition and possible assistance with breathing, usually in a critical care unit. Prevention of secondary infections such as pneumonia and urinary tract infection is essential. This disease can be fatal.
Milder cases of WNV improve on their own, and people do not necessarily need to seek medical attention, though they may choose to do so. If you develop symptoms such as severe headaches or confusion, seek medical attention immediately. Pregnant women and nursing mothers are encouraged to talk to their health care providers if they develop symptoms of WNV.
While no vaccine for humans for West Nile virus exists (one is available for horses), scientists are researching a possible vaccine, with several clinical trials under way. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid mosquito bites.
If possible, stay indoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. Wear socks, shoes, long-sleeved shirts and long pants. Loose-fitting, light-colored clothing is best so you can see the mosquitoes on you. Apply mosquito repellent that contains DEET or oil of lemon eucalyptus to exposed skin as well as your clothing. Choose strength based on the number of hours of protection you need; products with more repellent are not stronger, they just last longer. Do not use DEET on infants under 2 months of age. You can use oil of lemon eucalyptus and cover your child’s stroller, playpen or bed with mosquito netting. Do not apply any repellent to children’s hands since they tend to place their fingers in their mouths. Always use repellents as directed.
WAGE WAR ON MOSQUITOES
- Remove items in your yard that collect water (old tires, empty cans, barrels, flower pots).
- Change the water in birdbaths at least once a week.
- Clean a pet’s outdoor water bowl daily.
- Drain unused pools; remove collected water from pool covers.
- Clean clogged gutters.
- Install and repair door and window screens.
- Report dead birds to your local/state health department.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
New Orleans has a full roster of activities, events and festivals enticing guests throughout February and March.
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With Black History Month and Women’s History Month right around the corner, it’s time to highlight and recognize South African women working hard to make the travel industry better.
Since Cheval Blanc, an extraordinary, newly designed and refurbished 72-room hotel owned by Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessey, launched in September 2021, it has been the talk of the town. Le Tout-Paris remarks about its WOW factor … and the hard-to-get reservations for the 30 seats at Plenitude, the intimate, first-floor gastronomic outlet headed by chef Arnaud Donckele, who earned three Michelin stars at Cheval Blanc Saint Tropez. Reservations are also recommended for Limbar, the ground-floor bakery/café/tea shop/bar where we watched Pastry Chef Maxime Frédéric preparing desserts and an absolute must-have for dinner at Le Tout-Paris, the 7th-floor, all-day brasserie. This brightly colored space, with its raised seating and Fauve-like floor tiles and the adjacent Milanese restaurant, Langosteria, both have access to terraces facing the Seine River, with amazing views encompassing Notre Dame to the Eiffel Tower.
IHG® Business Edge: Working Together with SMEs for a smarter way to manage travel
Nevada-based The Spa at Green Valley by Well & Being and The Spa at Red Rock by Well & Being celebrate the start of 2022 with new health, wellness and spa treatments available through March 31. Both spas offer an array of treatments for guests wanting to relax and unwind before 2022 kicks into full gear.
Now through Jan. 28, JEOPARDY! and Lindblad Expeditions team up for a viewer promotion, the JEOPARDY! Explore Alaska Sweepstakes. The contest will award 10 winners and their guests with an eight-day, small-ship cruise of Alaska’s coastal wilderness.
Go ahead, take a nice, deep breath. Because a Seabourn voyage is all about this moment you’ve come so far in life to embrace. It’s not an escape, it’s an arrival.
It’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Santorini, Greece, with us.