West Nile Virus is a well-known, mosquito-transmitted virus.
Recently, in Massachusetts, a 60-year-old man was reportedly diagnosed with West Nile Virus. Authorities are uncertain of where the man was exposed to infected mosquitoes, but it was confirmed that he is being treated for a very rare case of the virus.
Most West Nile Virus patients, about 4 out of 5, never actually show any symptoms of the virus. In those cases, their immune system shuts down the virus quickly and produces antibodies that protect them in the future.
One in five people with the virus, however, will develop flu-like symptoms such as headaches, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or even a rash. The patient in Massachusetts developed an even more uncommon form of the virus.
The Massachusetts man was infected with a form of the West Nile Virus that caused his brain, and the lining of the brain, to become inflamed. Only 1 in 150 people infected with West Nile deal with that kind of reaction.
He started showing symptoms on August 11 and was admitted to the hospital very shortly after.
Evidence of West Nile Virus also showed up recently in Florida chickens as well as batches of mosquitoes in Texas, Minnesota and Tennessee. There have been several human infections reported throughout those states.
As nervous as people can get about West Nile Virus, there’s another virus that has been found in batches of mosquitoes from New Hampshire and Eastern Ontario. The rare virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis, is often transmitted through birds, but can also be carried by mosquitoes.
Normally, the Eastern Equine virus isn’t easily transmitted to mammals. However, an infected deer in New Hampshire and two infected horses in Ontario have led authorities to believe that the current strain found in mosquitoes has the possibility of being transmitted to humans.
Alan Dupuis, a New York-researcher and an expert on the virus, said, “it’s a more dangerous disease to get, though it’s a lot less prevalent than West Nile. But anytime a mammal is infected there is this risk posed to humans.”
Unlike West Nile, Eastern Equine Encephalitis has a mortality rate of up to 50% in those infected who begin to show symptoms. Unfortunately, scientists have not yet learned how many of the people who’ve contracted the virus actually go on to exhibit symptoms.
Protecting yourself from Eastern Equine Encephalitis is as easy as protecting yourself against West Nile.
If you intend to take part in outdoor activities, especially during warm weather, always apply insect repellent. Wear light-colored clothing and, if you’re going through tall grass or swamp-like areas, wear clothing that covers as much skin as possible.
Mosquitoes are most active during dusk and dawn so avoid being out during those times.
Make sure that any containers, pools or other possible areas of stagnant water are drained when not in use. Standing water is a breeding ground for mosquitoes.
Finally, make sure you have screens on your windows and doorways.
It’s important to remember that both viruses affect only a small number of people. None-the-less, if you fear you might be ill, visit a doctor.
[ Image courtesy of Ottawa Citizen ]