By Matthew Normal
West Nile Virus is a flu-like virus that can put an affected person’s health in serious danger. The virus is technically classified as a zoonotic arbovirus, which means that it can be transmitted between species and most commonly through arthropods. The virus first appeared in North America in 1999 and has grown to be a considerable threat since then. Because the disease is passed to humans through mosquitoes, it can travel to almost any area of the US, although certain areas may be more at risk than others.
The incubation period for West Nile Virus is several weeks, which means that a number of people may not show symptoms of the disease immediately after receiving a mosquito bite. Additionally, the virus affects individuals in different ways, though only a few will suffer the most serious health complications. Recent studies show that:
- 80% of people who are infected with West Nile Virus will not suffer from any symptoms
- Close to 20% will experience manageable health complications, such as nausea and vomiting, skin rashes, fevers, and body aches. In most cases, the symptoms pass after a few days.
- A much smaller percentage will experience the most serious symptoms, which include disorientation, convulsions, high fever, vision loss, paralysis, and other issues. For some, the neurological complications may be irreversible, although there is treatment available for those who seek medical help immediately.
Although West Nile Virus has infiltrated almost all areas of the country and does affect all types of people, there are some patterns that are emerging regarding who is likely to get sick from this disease. A recent study by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reviewed the possibility that individuals living in low-income neighborhoods may be more at risk of contracting the West Nile Virus. The study was performed by researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles, in addition to the Orange County Vector Control District.
It has been noted previously that low-income areas may experience higher amounts of human diseases than other parts of the country, but the new research has revealed that they may also have a higher population of West Nile Virus carrying mosquitoes. As such, this study reveals that economic situation may play a larger role in the health and safety of Americans than many people believe.
More than 30,000 people have been diagnosed with West Nile Virus since it first came to America in 1999. In this year alone, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported 3,454 Americans contracting the disease, with 147 resulting in death. While West Nile Virus has appeared in nearly every state, a majority of the cases have been reported in eight states:
- South Dakota
Currently there is no vaccination available to help manage outbreaks of this disease, but controlling the mosquito populations and taking proactive measures to keep mosquitoes away from homes and public facilities can be helpful in ensuring that West Nile Virus does not spread to people unnecessarily. The more information available across the nation, the easier it may be to minimize outbreaks and get people the medical help they need as soon as possible.
About the Author
Matthew Normal is a full time blogger who focuses on tech, legal, and medical issues. He often uses information provided by a medical malpractice lawyer or other professionals to research real-life, relevant medical topics that need to be discussed, such as West Nile Virus.