This summer all the way into fall, the spread of a seasonal virus such as the West Nile Virus (WNV) is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. There are no medications to treat or vaccines to prevent WNV infection. Fortunately, most people infected with WNV will have no symptoms.
About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, muscle ache, exhaustion, skin rash, swollen lymph glands, and in severe case, Encephalitis, which can be fatal. However, less than 1% of infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, neurologic illness. Contact your UHS primary care physician immediately if symptoms persist.
The most effective way to avoid WNV disease is to prevent mosquito bites, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Avoid Mosquito Bites
Use insect repellents when you go outdoors.
When weather permits, wear long sleeves, long pants, and socks when outdoors.
Take extra care during peak mosquito biting hours, during dusk and dawn.
Mosquito-Proof Your Home
Install or repair screens on windows and doors to keep mosquitoes outside. Use your air conditioning, if you have it. Help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by emptying standing water from flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires, and birdbaths on a regular basis.
Help Your Community West Nile Virus Surveillance and Control Programs
Support your local community mosquito control programs. Report dead birds to local authorities. Dead birds may be a sign that West Nile virus is circulating between birds and the mosquitoes in an area.
The chance of becoming ill from a single mosquito bite remains low. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. Please consult your UHS Pharmacist for more options. In severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care. Don’t wait until you experience a severe symptom. Visit a UHS clinic close to your home immediately for evaluation and treatment.