June 23, 2003
"You may have heard
people talking or seen news reports about West Nile, a virus that
is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. In areas where the
West Nile Virus has been found, very few mosquitoes have it. It's
true that the virus can cause an infection in the brain, but the chances
that you will get very sick from any one mosquito bite are re-e-e-ally
low. But, you still want to protect yourself and pitch in to help
cut down on the number of mosquitoes."
The CDC offers these words
of encouragement to kids. Before you decide to ignore the problem
because it could "never" happen to you, keep in mind that
on the same page they stress the need to be careful and protect yourself
(West Nile aside, who wouldn't mind fewer mosquito bites).
How much of a problem is
"As of June 18 2003,
23 states are reporting WNV activity in birds, horses, or mosquitoes."
"West Nile first struck
the northern hemisphere in Queens, N.Y., four years ago and killed
four people. This year, all 50 states are warning of an outbreak from
any of the 30 mosquito species known to carry it. From 62 severe cases
in 1999, confirmed human cases of the virus spread to 39 states in
2002, and it killed 284 people....The virus cannot be stopped by quarantining
people, because birds and mosquitoes that carry it cannot be quarantined."
While the disease is spreading,
"The CDC points out most people who are infected don't develop
any illness: Only about 20% of infected persons develop West Nile
fever with symptoms including mild fever, headache and body aches,
and sometimes a rash and swollen glands. Just 1 in 150 people who
are infected develop the severe form of the disease, with symptoms
like headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors,
convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. The most severe cases,
those involving brain inflammation, are called West Nile encephalitis.
Even in these severe cases, however, the CDC estimates that between
85 and 97 % of patients will survive."
How is your state preparing
for this potential threat to public health? For a detailed list of
state and local West Nile Virus resources:
Question of the Week:
How much of a concern is West Nile Virus where you live? Who is at
What can you do to help reduce the risk to yourself and others?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum