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What Is West Nile Fever ?

Friday, 31 August 2012

West Nile Fever is a viral infection caused by West Nile Virus, which is transmitted by the bite of an infected mosquito. 

66 people have died from West Nile virus infections this year and the number of human cases has grown to 1,590. That's the highest case count through the last week of August since the virus was first detected in the U.S in 1999.

Way of transmission of West Nile Virus:

The transmission cycle begins when a mosquito bites an infected bird and takes in blood that contains the virus. If the mosquito bites a human, it transmits the virus to him/her.
In a very small number of cases, WNV can spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and even during pregnancy from mother-to-baby.

Symptoms of West Nile Fever:
The earliest symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, body aches, rash and swollen lymph nodes. 80% of people infected by WNV, will not show any symptoms at all.
Symptoms usually begin 3 to 15 days after infection. In about 1% of infected individuals, it may cause West Nile Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) which will present with high fever, stiff neck, convulsions, confusion, paralysis and coma.

People aged over 50 years old and those who spend more time outdoors are at high risk of getting WNV.

How is West Nile Fever treated ?
There is no specific treatment for this disease. Management is supportive in terms of replacing fluids and electrolytes as they are lost through insensible losses due to fever and decreased fluid intake.

Medications used include analgesics/antipyretics which will help relief the associated lethargy, malaise and fever associated with the disease.

What can you do to prevent getting West Nile Virus ?

Basically, prevent getting bitten by mosquitoes will help prevent the transmission and hence the disease.
The easiest and best ways to do so are:
- When you are outdoors, use an insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. 
- Wear long sleeves and pants at dusk, dawn and early evening, the time when mosquitoes are most active.
- Drain all stagnant water from flower pots, buckets, pet food and water dishes at least once or twice a week. This will help reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.

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