West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus that has become an increasingly concerning public health issue in the United States. It is estimated that approximately 1 in 5 people infected with WNV will develop symptoms, which can range from mild to severe. Severe cases of infection can lead to neurological complications such as meningitis and encephalitis, which can be fatal. The risk of developing these complications increases with age. As such, prevention and early recognition of WNV are essential for reducing the risk of serious illness or death.
The most common way for humans to contract WNV is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on birds that have the virus in their blood. The virus then multiplies inside the mosquitos body before it is passed on when the mosquito bites another person or animal. Other methods of transmission include organ transplantation, blood transfusion and mother-to-child during pregnancy or breastfeeding; however, these methods are rare.
The most common symptoms associated with WNV are fever, headache and body aches, though some may experience more severe symptoms including neck stiffness, confusion, muscle weakness or paralysis and coma. In some cases, a rash may also appear on the chest, stomach or back. Symptoms usually begin 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito and typically last for a few days up to several weeks; however, some people may experience long-term effects such as fatigue and memory problems even after recovering from the virus.
In order to reduce your risk of contracting WNV it is important to take preventative measures such as wearing long sleeves and pants outdoors when possible; using insect repellent containing DEET or picaridin; avoiding outdoor activities during peak mosquito hours (dusk to dawn); draining any standing water around your home where mosquitoes may breed; keeping window screens in good repair; and using air conditioning if available indoors. Additionally, it is important to recognize potential signs and symptoms early so treatment can be sought quickly if necessary. If you think you may have been exposed to WNV seek medical attention right away as early diagnosis can help reduce complications associated with this virus.
In conclusion West Nile Virus is a serious public health concern that should not be taken lightly due its ability to cause severe neurological complications in those infected with it. Prevention measures should always be taken when outdoors during peak mosquito hours but if exposure does occur it is important to seek medical attention immediately so treatment can begin as soon as possible in order minimize potential complications associated with this virus.