West Nile Virus

Posted: February 21, 2017

Introduction

According to the literature, the West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease (Pauli et al., 2013). People get infected with the virus when an infected mosquito bites them. The mosquitoes get infected with the virus when they feed on infected birds. The infected mosquitoes can spread the virus to humans and animals that they bite. New research has found that WNV is also spread through needle pokes, breast milk (which is rare), and transmission within Utero all having one case linked to them (Pauli et al., 2013). Other ways are also through contaminated blood, blood transfusions, and even transplanted organs (McVey, Wilson, & Gay, 2015). Blood testing centers started screening blood for the specific virus in 2003, because most people are asymptomatic of the virus.

The Past of West Nile Virus

Historically,  West Nile virus affected regions in Africa, Asia, and continental Europe. However, due to global warming, it has spread to other nations including the US. The first identified and confirmed case of the WNV in the US happened in New York City in the year 1999 (McVey et al,, 2015). 13 years later, the virus had spread to every state (Table 1). During these years, thousand have been affected, including those resulting in brain damage and death (Graph 1). The outbreak mainly depends on the weather patterns, including heat waves and rain storms. A majority of the states, who have been infected, have mosquito monitoring surveillance and traps in place. For a safeguard precaution, many states have implemented pesticide spraying programs and have given their citizens information to help safeguard their families, homes, and property (McVey et al., 2015).

There have been many reports received by New York State officials from bird-watchers, conservationists, and other observing individuals of dead birds found around the region (Pauli et al., 2013). With the large number of dead birds found, other federal agencies told states bordering New York to be alert and to look for large groups of dead birds. Scientists were concerned with the birds fall migration, because they would carry the virus with them to the south bound, possibly causing another outbreak. Symptoms of the West Nile Virus include: vision loss, numbness, stupor, coma, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, chills, sore throat, backache, breathing problems, fatigue, skin rash, fever, swollen lymph glands, and headach.

Present

West Nile virus continues to be a threat in almost every community in the United States. Although most individuals have the disease without ever knowing, it is still a large risk to the elderly community and can have severe reactions and complications in this specific population (Campbell, Marfin, Lanciotti, & Gubler, 2002). Knowledge and education are the best defence against West Nile virus, and the elderly population needs to be made aware of the threat lurking in their own backyards. The elderly have a high rate of contracting West Nile virus, because they tend to take less precautionary steps against the virus. There are no cultural and spiritual beliefs against protection from this specific virus, so, in this case, education is the key.

The community is taking all precautions by wearing the appropriate clothing, dumping standing water, utilizing financial resources, and seeking help at the first sign of symptoms. Take pride in protecting yourself, friend, animals, and families by taking advantage of the resources to do so. Life is what we create it and the choices that we make will do that.

Prevention of the possibilities of contracting the virus is possible through the usage of insect repellent, control, and other methods. Any insect repellent that is used for the skin is with DEET in it. DEET is Diethyl-meta-toluamide that is safe not just for adults, but for children as well, and is most effective (Asnis & Crupi, 2008). The CDC also recommended using mosquito repellentpicaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus (Wüllenweber, Gärtner, Cassens, Sibrowski, & Herrmann, 2004). Permethrin is also an insect repellent, but it is used only for clothing and should never be applied to the skin (Pauli et al., 2013).

Controlling mosquitoes can be done by disregarding any and all sources of standing water, such as bird baths, bottles, flower pots, etc. in order to prevent breeding. Utilization of citronella candles or bug zappers is another way in which preventing the spread of West Nile virus can be controlled (Kramer, Li, & Shi, 2007). Other ways of prevention are by wearing long pants and long sleeve shirts towards night time, sleep in closed areas, usage of fans and air-conditioners, no fragrances, hair washing done twice a week, and covering all skin around sunset.

The Future of West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus will remain a major threat and challenge to the health care management in the future. Consequently, looking into the future of West Nile Virus, prevention is the best method of ensuring healthy communities. Prevention of the West Nile virus is possible. Taking personal protective measures to reduce exposure to mosquito bites can reduce the risk of contracting the virus. Similarly, implementing the scheduled spraying should reduce the number of mosquitoes. West Nile education should start young and the focus should be on those populations who are especially at risk (Asnis & Crupi, 2008). A shifting of WNV care into the primary care setting should bring about improved outcomes for patients, especially, pregnant women. More community outreach programs should be established to talk about the disease and support for others with West Nile virus.

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