According to experts, this is the worst year ever for West Nile Virus. So far, 41 people have died because of the mosquito-transmitted virus and more than 1,000 cases have been reported across the nation, with most of them in Texas. The good news is that there are steps you can take to protect yourself from the disease.
The best way to keep you and your loved ones safe from West Nile is to wear long sleeves and pants while outside, use bug spray and avoid standing water around your home. Standing water even includes small amounts, such as in a bird bath or flower pot. Change bird bath water every few days to stay safe. Avoid outdoor activities at dusk and dawn. If you open your windows, make sure you use screens. West Nile Virus does not spread from person to person via casual contact. It can be spread via the blood supply during transfusions, organ transplants or breastfeeding.
If you have mosquito bites and are concerned, here are some symptoms that usually present with West Nile Virus:
- Feel ill approximately 3-14 days after bite from infected mosquito
- Fever, headache, fatigue, body aches, muscle pain, joint pain, and chills
Symptoms last a few days to several weeks. Very few people will develop serious symptoms which may include encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the brain and spinal cord). Remember, if treated, West Nile is rarely fatal.
If you believe you have West Nile Virus, contact your doctor. You’ll undergo several tests which may include blood work, an MRI, a spinal tap and more.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more information West Nile Virus.