West Nile Virus WARNING.....(what to look for)
Published August 22, 2012
The Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday this is shaping
up to be the worst year ever for West Nile Virus infections and deaths
in the U.S. The virus, transmitted by mosquitoes, is now to blame for 41
deaths across the country with more than 1,100 people infected -- and
those numbers are expected to climb.
The number of cases has risen dramatically in the past few weeks.
CDC officials say numbers are alarming given there were only 25 cases
reported nationwide this time last month. The only states that do not
have reported cases of the virus are Hawaii, Alaska and Vermont.
“There have been more cases reported to us at this time of year than
ever before,” said Dr. Lyle R. Petersen, director of Vector-Borne
Infectious Diseases for the CDC. “This will be amongst the biggest or
the biggest break we’ve had in the United States.”
Texas officials are working closely with the CDC to get a handle on
the outbreak. Dr. David Lakey, commissioner for the Texas Department of
Health, said his state is the center of the outbreak. Statewide, there
are 586 reported cases with 21 deaths. Lakey said there were four more
reported cases and one additional death yesterday, but those have not
officially been confirmed.
Dallas County, which includes the city of Dallas, is under a public
health emergency with the largest number of cases in the state. For the
first time in decades, county officials have been spraying pesticides
over the city and its suburbs overnight. The last round of spraying took
place Monday after weather had delayed the treatment last week. Lakey
said the spraying is the best way to get a handle on this public health
epidemic. He said state officials support the localities that request
the aerial spraying.
During a conference Wednesday he said there is no evidence the aerial spray poses a threat to humans.
Why this year?
There are a number of factors which contribute to an outbreak.
Experts are not willing to pin-point one specific reason for the
outbreak of 2012, but they point to studies that prove warmer
temperatures lead to higher instances of virus transferability in
mosquitoes. Peterson said our mild winter, early spring and unusually
hot summer likely have allowed the mosquitoes to thrive more than in
past years. In Dallas, the heat combined with stagnant water creates a
perfect mosquito breeding ground.
What to look for?
Symptoms of the virus vary, and according to the CDC, four out of
five people never feel sick. The most serious symptoms show only a small
percentage of people, about one in 150. Those symptoms could include
high fever, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors and
convulsion – even vision loss, and paralysis. Milder symptoms could
include fever, headaches, and body aches as well as vomiting.
It takes anywhere between three to 14 days before symptoms show, but when the symptoms do show up, it hits hard.
Nile virus (WNV) has emerged in recent years in temperate regions
of Europe and North America, presenting a threat to public and
animal health. the most serious manifestation of WNV infection
is fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and
horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds.
WNV has also been a significant cause of human illness in the
United States in 2002 and 2003.
Nile virus was first isolated from a febrile adult woman in the
West Nile District of Uganda in 1937. the ecology was characterized
in Egypt in the 1950s. the virus became recognized as a cause
of severe human meningitis or encephalitis (inflammation of the
spinal cord and brain) in elderly patients during an
outbreak in Israel in 1957. Equine disease was first noted in
Egypt and France in the early 1960s. WNV first appeared in North
America in 1999, with encephalitis reported in humans and horses.the
subsequent spread in the United States is an important milestone
in the evolving history of this virus.
Nile virus has been described in Africa, Europe, the Middle East,
west and central Asia, Oceania (subtype Kunjin), and most recently,
of WNV encephalitis in humans have occurred in Algeria in 1994,
Romania in 1996-1997, the Czech Republic in 1997, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo in 1998, Russia in 1999, the United States
in 1999-2003, and Israel in 2000. Epizootics of disease
in horses occurred in Morocco in 1996, Italy in 1998, the United
States in 1999-2001, and France in 2000, and in birds in Israel
in 1997-2001 and in the United States in 1999-2002.
the U.S. since 1999, WNV human, bird, veterinary or mosquito activity
have been reported from all states except Hawaii, Alaska, and
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