2012 has brought with it record Lyme disease risk and now concerns about an uptick in West Nile Virus cases. What is happening this year to increase the risks of these insect-borne diseases? Health experts explain this phenomenon is due to the incredibly warm winter which led into an early spring and now an extremely hot summer. These conditions have created a hotbed for mosquito breeding grounds, increasing the rates of West Nile throughout the country, with the highest rates in Texas, Mississippi, and Oklahoma.
According to Charles Apperson, professor of entomology, North Carolina State University, “Spring rains followed by hot, dry weather are conditions that promote the production of Culex mosquitoes that amplify the virus in bird reservoirs.”
The CDC website states that most often, WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spreadWNV to humans and other animals when they bite. Here are a few tips to help protect yourself, your family and outdoor working employees.
What Steps Can People Take To Protect Themselves from West Nile Virus Infection?
- Be aware of the local West Nile virus activity and take action to stay protected
- Information about where WNV cases are occurring in the United States is available via http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm and in Canada at http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/wnv-vwn/
- The best way to prevent West Nile virus disease is to avoid mosquito bites
- Use insect repellents on exposed skin when you go outdoors
- Wear long sleeve shirts, pants, socks, and/or hats that are treated with insect repellent – especially during dawn and dusk hours when mosquito activity peaks
- Install or repair screens on windows and doors
- Empty standing water from items such as flowerpots, buckets, kiddie pools, and gutters
Symptoms of West Nile Virus (Courtesy of the CDC)
Approximately 1 in 5 people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Less than one per cent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues).
About 10 per cent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die. People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.
“Retailers throughout the Dallas area have been contacting me for additional inventory of apparel treated with Insect Shield® Technology, due to recent consumer concerns about West Nile virus,” says Cheryl Sternberg, Sternberg & Associates, a rep firm specializing in performance outdoor apparel. “Outdoor enthusiasts and families are simply looking for simple, effective ways to protect themselves from mosquitoes that can carry West Nile.”
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