" We are in the midst of one of the worst outbreaks of West Nile Virus the USA has ever seen" Petersen, who contracted the disease himself in 2003 went on to say that anyone who survives the condition has life-long immunity from the disease.
WHAT IS IT?
Officially is is one of the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex viruses of the family Flaviviridae. As stated it is a virus and it is spread by mosquitoes of the genus culex, particularly culex Pipiens and it is maintained by vertical transmission (adult to egg). This is not the genus of mosquito that spread malaria. Birds are the natural reservoir of the disease and mosquitoes pick it up by feeding on infected birds. They then pass it through their bite to other animals and humans.
The United States is so far unique in that the virus is highly pathogenic to its birds with the crow family being particularly susceptible although it has been found in 250 species of birds, all who were dead or dying.
In Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa morbidity and mortality in the birds is rarely found, they appear healthy.
It can also be spread by contact with infected blood from other animals, and rarely through blood transfusion, organ transplantation and pregnancy.
* high temperature 101.4*F (38*C)
* muscle aches
* sore throat
* swollen lymph glands in the neck
* rash on stomach back and chest
These symptoms usually appear 3-15 days after infection occurs. The more serious, neuro-invasive cases show the above symptoms and in addition may present with:
* sore eyes
* muscle weakness
These symptoms usually precede encephalitis, meningitis or paralysis. People over the age of 50 are more likely to develop the serious form of the disease than are younger people.
there is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus. As a virus antibiotics have no effect. The milder form usually clears of its own accord within a few days to a few weeks and there are rarely any lasting effects after recovery. The more serious cases do not have such a good prognosis and although people do recover it is possible they may be left with brain damage from encephalitis and meningitis can lead to meningococcal septicaemia with the resultant loss of one or more limbs. Very severe cases can lead to death through either of the above conditions. Medical care is IV infusions to maintain hydration, IV antibiotics if secondary infection is suspected and ventilatory support as required.
* decent mosquito repellant containing DEET
* long sleeves and long trousers
* screens on windows and doors
* citronella or other bug repellant candles
* draining of stagnant water and un-used swimming pools
* community spraying to prevent mosquitoes breeding
The fact that only 1 in 150 people usually develop the severe form of the disease, but in this outbreak more than half have developed it, is the reason the authorities are spraying with such vigour in an attempt to control the spread of the disease. One report, from the BBC suggests they are spraying a substance called DUET, based on extract of chrysanthemum which is not harmful to animals and humans but deadly to mosquitoes. I have found no other mention of DUET so I cannot verify that this is indeed the substance being sprayed.