Make sure you wear long pants and shirts when outside between sunset and sunrise. At least that’s the recommendation of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).
It seems that the number of West Nile cases is on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that last year by this time, 15 cases of human West Nile Virus had been reported. This year, there are already 185 cases.
ACEP is concerned. Peak mosquito season is in August and September, and the number of West Nile cases is expected to rise even more.
Those infected with West Nile can experience symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, and vomiting. These symptoms can last a few days or several weeks.
“Given the jump in reported cases, along with the minute chance of developing life-threatening illness, we are asking people… to take extra precautions against mosquito bites,” said ACEP President Dr. Brian Keaton.
California has reported the most cases of West Nile so far this season with 42. South Dakota has reported 38 cases, North Dakota 14, Mississippi 13, and Nebraska 12.
Only about 1 % of people infected with the virus develop a severe illness. High fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis are some of the symptoms of a severe case of West Nile.
Again, these symptoms may last several weeks.
In rare cases, the West Nile virus can enter the brain. It can then cause deadly diseases, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Keaton advised that “it is important to be aware of the symptoms of severe infection and to seek medical attention if those symptoms arise.”
There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus.
There are a few precautions you can take, however, besides wearing long pants and sleeves. Use insect repellant (try citronella spray, which is a natural repellant). Get rid of any standing water around your house. Mosquitoes love to breed in still water. And keep screens on doors and windows in good repair.
Following these simple guidelines should help you enjoy the rest of the summer free of worries about West Nile virus.