West Nile rapidly heading west-Health officials predict virus may hit California by next year
ASSOCIATED PRESS - MSNBC
July 29, 2002 —
how bad the mosquito-borne illness will get — although a
rapidly growing outbreak among 32 people in Louisiana began a
month earlier than West Nile has ever struck in this country, a
big worry. But it’s clear the virus first detected in New York
City a mere three years ago has become a permanent summertime
threat in most states.
They get a
flu-like illness, with fever, headache and muscle pains, that
lasts two or three days.
Sources: Chris Rooney, WNYT-Albany, N.Y.; CDC; New York City
The virus is spread to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito (primarily Culex pipiens, the common house mosquito). Mosquitoes become infected by feeding on birds that carry the virus. The virus is not spread by person-to-person contact such as touching or kissing. There is no evidence that a person can get the virus from touching infected birds, but people should always wear gloves and exercise caution when handling dead animals.
Many people who are infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms. Others may experience mild symptoms, such as low-grade fever, headache and body aches, skin rash or swollen lymph nodes, within three to 15 days. In some people, particularly the elderly, children or people with weak immune systems, the virus can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain tissue), which can result in permanent neurological damage and, in rare cases, death. Encephalitis symptoms include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness and coma.
cities spray pesticides to reduce mosquito populations. In
areas where the virus has been found, people should take the
following precautions to avoid exposure to mosquitoes:
to October, minimize time spent outdoors at dawn, dusk and
in the early evening, when mosquitoes are most active.
long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin and clothing,
according to manufacturer’s directions. Repellent may
irritate the eyes and mouth so avoid applying it to the
hands of children.
that doors and windows having tight-fitting screens.
water-holding containers from your property, such as
discarded tires, tin cans, ceramic pots and plastic
containers to eliminate standing water, which serves as
breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
water in bird baths at least once a week.
Drain water from pool covers and keep pools and hot tubs cleaned and chlorinated.
The Mosquito Control Association also recommends
frequently changing birdbath water, stocking ponds with
mosquito-eating minnows and using larvicides in unavoidable
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