DISEASES: WEST NILE VIRUS
WHAT IS WEST NILE VIRUS
West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. It is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus found in the United States. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses and some other mammals.
West Nile fever is a case of mild disease in people, characterized by flu-like symptoms. West Nile fever typically lasts only a few days and does not appear to cause any long-term health effects. West Nile Virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito.
More severe disease due to a person being infected with this virus can be “West Nile encephalitis,” West Nile meningitis or West Nile meningoencephalitis.” Encephalitis refers to an inflammation of the brain, meningitis is an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and the spinal cord, and meningoencephalitis refers to inflammation of the brain and the membrane surrounding it.
West Nile virus has been commonly found in humans and birds and other vertebrates in Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia, and the Middle East, but until 1999 had not previously been documented in the Western Hemisphere. It is not known from where the U.S. virus originated, but it is most closely related genetically to strains found in the Middle East
West Nile Virus was first discovered in the United States in 1999.
PERSONAL PROTECTION INFORMATION
Here are preventive measures that you and your family can take:
Protect yourself from mosquito bites:
Apply insect repellent sparingly to exposed skin. The more DEET a repellent contains the longer time it can protect you from mosquito bites. A higher percentage of DEET in a repellent does not mean that your protection is better–just that it will last longer. DEET concentrations higher than 50% do not increase the length of protection. Choose a repellent that provides protection for the amount of time that you will be outdoors.
Repellents may irritate the eyes and mouth, so avoid applying repellent to the hands of children.
Whenever you use an insecticide or insect repellent, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s DIRECTIONS FOR USE, as printed on the product.
Spray clothing with repellents containing permethrin or DEET since mosquitoes may bite through thin clothing. Do not apply repellents containing permethrin directly to exposed skin. If you spray your clothing, there is no need to spray repellent containing DEET on the skin under your clothing.
When possible, wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants whenever you are outdoors.
Place mosquito netting over infant carriers when you are outdoors with infants.
Consider staying indoors at dawn, dusk, and in the early evening, which are peak mosquito biting times.
Install or repair window and door screens so that mosquitoes cannot get indoors.
WHAT CAN I DO TO REDUCE MY RISK
Help reduce the number of mosquitoes in areas outdoors where you work or play, by draining sources of standing water. In this way, you reduce the number of places mosquitoes can lay their eggs and breed.
At least once or twice a week, empty water from flower pots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers, buckets, barrels, and cans.
Check for clogged rain gutters and clean them out.
Remove discarded tires, and other items that could collect water.
Be sure to check for containers or trash in places that may be hard to see, such as under bushes or under your home.
Note: Vitamin B and “ultrasonic” devices are NOT effective in preventing mosquito bites.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON WEST NILE VIRUS
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s West Nile Virus Section
OREGON’S WEST NILE VIRUS HOTLINE
Oregon West Nile Virus