Tips on Preventing and Recognizing West Nile Virus
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Tips on Preventing and Recognizing West Nile Virus

Pennsylvania has already reported the earliest detection of a West Nile virus-carrying mosquito since testing began in 2000. Other states are reporting instances as well. Certain mosquito species - although not all - carry the virus that can cause humans to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in inflammation of the brain. Without a vaccine, the best defense is prevention. These tips will help you reduce your exposure and therefore your risk of contracting West Nile Virus.

Pennsylvania has already reported the earliest detection of a West Nile virus-carrying mosquito since testing began in 2000. Other states are reporting instances as well. Certain mosquito species - although not all - carry the virus that can cause humans to contract West Nile encephalitis, an infection that can result in inflammation of the brain.

Normally, Pennsylvania does not see West Nile outbreaks until mid-June. The warm spring however has altered life cycles in many species, one of which is mosquitos. The mosquitos feed on infected birds and then in turn bite humans. 

"The unseasonably warm weather in March caused the virus cycle to begin early this year," PA Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Mike Krancer said.

Without a vaccine, the best defense is prevention. Stagnant water is where most mosquitoes breed. Eliminating the stagnant water reduces the risk of contracting the virus.

Prevention Tips 

  • Throw away any container that can hold water, such as cans, buckets, plastic containers, or ceramic pots.
  • Dispose of old tires that can collect water.
  • Drill holes in the bottom of outdoor recycling containers so that water can drain properly. 
  • Clean your roof gutters regularly. 
  • Turn over plastic wading pools when they are not in use. 
  • Turn over wheelbarrows. 
  • Do not let water stagnate in birdbaths. 
  • Aerate ornamental pools or stock them with fish. 
  • Fix the screens in your house. Cover any holes.
  • Reduce your time outside at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are prevelant.
  • Use insect repellant. One with DEET is most effective.

Recognizing the Symptoms is vital.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 80% of people infected with the West Nile Virus will not exhibit any symptoms. Symptoms will display themselves three to 14 days after being bit by the infected mosquito. Others however may experience:

  • fever
  • headache
  • body aches
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • swollen lymph glands
  • skin rash on the chest, stomach and back
  • disorientation
  • coma
  • tremors
  • convulsions
  • muscle weakness
  • vision loss
  • numbness 
  • paralysis

Again not everyone wille exhibit symptoms. Thus the need for prevention is vital.

DISCLAIMER:

This article is not meant to replace the medical advice of a doctor. If you think you have been infected, you should seek medical advice from your physician.

ABOUT JEANNE RUCZHAK-ECKMAN

Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman began writing in 1985, with her work appearing in several local newspapers. From 2003-2009, she spearheaded an online newspaper company, which had two newspapers, the PA Farm News and SolancoNews.com. The latter covered everything from hometown heroes and new businesses to the Nickel Mines Shooting. She received her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from LockHavenUniversity. Her interests include history/travel, learning more about diabetes and how to deal with it, genealogy, Orthodoxy, preparedness and gaming. You may contact Jeanne with your comments and questions.

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Comments (1)

Sounds scary....

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