All About West Nile Virus, Here to Stay in North America

All About West Nile Virus, Here to Stay in North America

Mosquitoes buzzing this summer? Here’s another reason to slap on some bug repellant or stay indoors when they take flight.

West Nile virus (WNV) sounds like something out of the depths of Africa, and while it is in a way, it’s also an illness that’s alive and well in North America. It’s transmitted by infected mosquitoes, and it can cause serious illness.

The good news is that someplace around 80% of people who are infected with WNV through a mosquito bite don’t show any symptoms at all. According to the World Health Organization, these lucky souls strike a pose, turn the corner, and never look back as they walk away.

But for the remaining 20%, it’s a different story. West Nile virus can develop into a neuroinvasive disease that can cause paralysis and send you into a coma. This is the result of West Nile fever, and just 1 in 150 people who contract WNV will have develop it.

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Symptoms of the illness include a headache, fever, body aches and pains, fatigue, nausea, vomiting and swollen lymph nodes. Occasionally people also develop a rash on their core.

When things get serious WNV can cause stupor, convulsions, muscle weakness, tremors, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma and paralysis.

It’s significant to know that WNV can strike people of any age but individuals over the age of 50, and people who have a lowered immune system are at a greater risk of having it develop into something this devastating.

What’s the incubation period? If you’ve been bitten by an infected mosquito, symptoms of sickness can appear anywhere from 3 days to two weeks later.

Click here for ideas on protecting yourself from mosquito bites.

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