They want to know this because there are several viruses and bacteria that are regionally specific. Now, the U.S. has been added to that list in other countries. The U.K. Blood Donation Service and Scottish Blood Transfusion Service routinely ask potential donors if they have been to the U.S. in the past 28 days because of the outbreak of West Nile Virus (WNV).
Let’s briefly overview WNV and look at some helpful information for you and your family.
WNV is transmitted via mosquitos and are known as “vectors.” While mosquitos do transmit the disease, they are not the primary host. The primary host for WNV is most commonly birds, but some mammals and reptiles do host the virus as well.
When the mosquito feeds off of the host’s capillaries, it contracts the WNV, and then after that mosquito feeds off of a human’s capillaries, it injects the virus into their bloodstream through their saliva.
After humans receive this virus, one of three things happens in the next two to 15 days. The first and most likely to occur is that you will not experience any symptoms whatsoever. The second outcome, which happens in 20 percent of cases, is what is called West Nile Fever. West Nile Fever typically presents symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and rash. There is no current medication for West Nile Fever.
Like most viruses, the symptoms are treated until the virus has run its course, usually anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks. West Nile Fever doesn’t appear to present any permanent damage.
The third outcome which occurs in less than one percent of cases is a neurologic disease known as West Nile Encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain, “West Nile Meningitis,” an inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and “West Nile Meningoencephalitis,” which is a combination of the two. Treatment for this outcome consists of treating the symptoms in a hospital setting to maintain hydration, offer respiratory support and prevent further infection.
There are several things you can do to prevent your family from contracting this virus. Wear mosquito repellents; use window screens in your home, and avoid stagnant pools of water or other damp areas where mosquitos are prone to congregate. If you or your family do happen to develop a fever after a mosquito bite, you should consult a medical doctor.
Visit cdc.gov for more information, including further tips to prevent mosquito bites and risk factors you may possess that may make you more prone to developing WNV.
Justin Glaze is an LPN and contributing columnist for the Walker County Messenger. He can be reached at 678-988-1011 or email@example.com.