WHAT IS IT?
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease that is transmitted by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get WNV by feeding on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes pass the virus to other birds, people, horses, and other mammals. Humans, horses and other mammals are considered “dead end” hosts because they cannot develop high levels of the virus in their bloodstream to pass the virus onto other mosquitoes. The WNV is most often spread to people by the Culex mosquitoes.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
70 to 80% of people will not have symptoms. Less than 1% will develop a neurologic disease such as
- Muscle/Body aches
- Joint Pain
- >1% develop neurological diseases
Symptoms generally begin 2 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
HOW CAN I PREVENT CONTRACTING THIS DISEASE?
There is currently no vaccine against WNV infection. There is no specific antiviral treatment for WNV infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce fever and relieve symptoms. Ill people should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and get plenty of rest. In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized.
To eliminate and control mosquitoes, prevent mosquitoes from breeding by not accumulating garbage and avoid standing water in containers. This mosquito species emerges as an adult asynchronously (a few at a time) it is difficult to control. Other methods of prevention include:
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
- Stay in places with air conditioning and window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
- Take steps to control mosquitoes inside and outside your home.
- Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
- Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered insect repellents with one of the following active ingredients:
- DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol. Choosing an EPA-registered repellent ensures the EPA has evaluated the product for effectiveness. When used as directed, EPA-registered insect repellents are proven safe and effective, even for pregnant and breastfeeding women.