Most people have heard of West Nile virus, but few know much about it. In order for you to keep yourself and your family safe, you need to understand what the disease is, how it is spread, and what you can do to prevent it.
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile infection is caused by a virus that is transmitted to people by mosquitoes. The virus can also affect horses and birds, including chickens. For humans there is no vaccine to block it, and no drugs specifically designed to treat it. Since 1999, infections have been documented in 48 states with the exceptions being Alaska and Hawaii.
While not everyone exposed to West Nile virus will develop symptoms, those who do may suffer from fever, headaches, muscle aches, stiffness, swollen lymph glands, and skin rashes. In some cases the severity of the symptoms intensifies, and may be accompanied by disorientation, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and very rarely, death.
How is West Nile Virus Spread?
It is important to know that the disease cannot be directly spread from one human to another, or from animals to humans. It is carried and spread by infected mosquitoes. When an infected mosquito bites a person or animal, there is a chance that the virus will be transmitted. If another mosquito then bites the newly-infected host, that mosquito can pick up the virus and carry it to the next victim.
How is West Nile Virus Prevented?
Since the virus is carried by mosquitoes, the best defense is to ensure that no one is bitten by the dangerous insects. Use bug repellent when you are outdoors, and make sure that your family does, too. As mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk, limit your time outdoors during those periods. Protect yourself by wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants. Most importantly, eliminate mosquitoes where they breed.
Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing bodies of water, so you must remove all standing water sources from around your home. Next, contact an exterminator or pest control company to inspect your premises and apply appropriate control measures. An exterminator who treats for mosquitoes can easily be found by doing a quick web search by entering pest control in Aspen, Colorado, for example, and substituting your city and state.
Although West Nile virus is a disease that can threaten anyone, by taking the measures outlined above, you can keep your family safe and enjoy the outdoors with confidence.