Human Cases of West Nile Virus Reported in 34 States
West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States and is spread through infected mosquitoes. With increasing temperatures from global warming, and extended wet weather, the peak season is lasting longer into Fall months. Officials in 14 states are reporting increased West Nile cases vs. 2020, and 9 states are reporting more West Nile Virus caused deaths than in 2020.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus, also known as West Nile Fever, infects humans through a single bite from an infected mosquito. It cannot be transmitted between humans but can infect humans of all ages.
West Nile in Birds
The most common carrier of WNV is through infected birds, most commonly crows and jays. Like humans, West Nile is transmitted to birds through the bite of an infected mosquito. It can also be transmitted through the digestion of infected mosquitoes or other birds. Because birds migrate throughout the country, WNV can be spread to new regions if infected birds are bit by mosquitoes, who pass the virus along to human hosts.
What are the signs of West Nile?
Generally, there are no West Nile symptoms in humans, with only about 1 in 5 showing signs. These symptoms are similar to those of Covid19 or influenza, such as headache, body ache, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash, and can be easily misdiagnosed. According to the CDC, about 1 in 150 infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal illness that affects the central nervous system, such as Encephalitis or Meningitis. Recovery from severe illness caused by WNV can take several weeks or months, and some damage to the central nervous system might be permanent.
There are no vaccines or specific medications available to prevent or treat WNV. If you believe you are showing symptoms, speak with your healthcare provider who can order tests to check for WNV infection. Over-the-counter pain relievers can help reduce fever and relieve some symptoms. However, the best way to avoid infection is to prevent yourself from being bitten by mosquitoes.
How can I prevent West Nile Virus?
As we transition into Fall and the weather starts to cool, there are many outdoor activates you and your family can still enjoy. However, it is important to know that mosquitoes will remain active with temperatures above 50° Fahrenheit. These small insects can transmit dangerous diseases, such as West Nile Virus, Dengue Fever, Malaria, and Zika Virus.
Mosquitoes are most active during the hours of early morning and dusk. While out during your morning walk, watching your kids play soccer, eating outside at your favorite restaurant, or relaxing at your backyard bonfire, be sure to properly protect yourself from mosquitoes.
Here are five steps to take to avoid a West Nile mosquito bite: