West Nile Virus was discovered in Uganda in 1937, but came to the US in 1999. Some suspect it was an errant, infected bird who landed on our soil that brought the virus here, and others believe it was a stow away mosquito responsible for the travel of the disease to the US, but no one really knows for sure. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes to humans or other mammals. Most people don’t know they even have the virus, but there are a few who suffer from serious side effects such as encephalitis or meningitis.
What is West Nile Virus and How Does it Spread?
This disease is spread through mosquitoes and can attack the central nervous system in serious cases. West Nile Virus originates in birds that act as “amplifiers.” This means high levels of the virus can develop in the blood stream. Mammals that become infected with the virus are “dead end” hosts because they cannot develop high levels of the virus in their blood stream. Due to the low levels of the virus in the infected mammal, the mosquito cannot spread the virus by biting an infected human. It can only be spread by biting an infected bird.
What are Symptoms of West Nile Virus?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, most people who contract West Nile Virus don’t even know they have it and won’t experience symptoms. Other people (about 20%) who contract the disease will experience symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash.
Less than 1% of people infected will develop serious side effects that attack the central nervous system. These symptoms include but are not limited to: high fever, headache, coma, tremors and vision loss. Ten percent of those who develop serious side effects result in fatality.
If you experience any of these symptoms, contact a physician.
Is there Treatment for West Nile Virus?
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine or prescribed treatment for this illness. This means preventing mosquito bites is your best option. Wear light colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants with close toed shoes to protect the skin. You should also wear an EPA approved insect repellent that contains DEET, Picaridin, IR3535 or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Lastly, you should consider partnering with a licensed pest management professional like Gregory Pest Solutions! We’ve been around the block a time or two and have been awarded the South Carolina State Term Contract. So, you can rest assured we know the best way to keep your family and home safe!