West Nile Virus is a risk you can do something about with a few simple steps.
West Nile Virus is now in most of the United States and has now been detected in Rhode Island and South Eastern Ma. The most important way people become infected is through the bite of an infected mosquito. You can reduce your chance of getting infected by avoiding mosquito bites.
Adults are at highest risk. People over the age of 50 have a higher risk for becoming seriously ill when they get infected with West Nile virus. People under age 50 can also become sick but it is less likely. When most people get infected with West Nile virus do not have any symptoms. Some develop a mild illness call West Nile Fever. This mild illness gets better on its own. No treatment is needed.
A small number of people (less then 1 out of 100) who get infected with West Nile virus develop severe disease, called West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis (inflammation of the brain or the area around the brain). This severe disease usually requires hospitalization. In come cases, especially among older person, it can result in death.
Symptoms of severe illness include headache, High fever, stiff neck, mental confusion, muscle weakness, tremors (shaking), convulsions, coma and paralysis. See your doctor if you develop these symptoms.
There is no specific treatment for the West Nile virus infection. There is no vaccine available for people.
Three ways to reduce you West Nile virus risk.
1. Avoid mosquito bites.
Repellents should be used only according to directions. Repellents containing DEET are very safe for adults and children. Don’t put repellents on kids’s hands because it may get in their mouth or eyes.
2. Mosquito Proof your home.
Screens: Keep mosquitoes outside by fixing or installing windows and door screens.
Drain Standing Water: Don’t give mosquitoes a place to breed. A small amount of standing water can be enough for mosquito to lay her eggs.
Look around every week for possible mosquito breeding places. Empty water from buckets, cans, pool cover, flower pots and other items. Throw away or cover up stored tires and other items that aren’t being used. Clean pets water bowls weekly. Check if rain gutters are clogged. If you store water outside or have a well, make sure its covered up. Encourage you neighbors to do the same.
3. Help your community!
Dead birds help Health departments track West Nile virus. Check with local or state health department to find out their policy for reporting dead birds.