West Nile Virus: First Reported Case for 2012 in Las Vegas, NV

The Southern Nevada Health District has reported the first case of human West Nile Virus for 2012, in Clark County, which is the county that Las Vegas is located in. The patient, a 75-year-old Las Vegas woman, lives in zip code 89107, which is about 2 miles west of downtown.

The woman, whose name has not been released, has the more serious, neuroinvasive form of the disease. There are 3 types of neuroinvasive West Nile Virus which include: 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.

Another type of the illness that can occur in people is West Nile Fever. People who become infected with this type of the West Nile Virus have symptoms of fever, headache, tiredness, aches and pains, and an occasional rash. The illness can last a few days, up to several weeks. West Nile Virus is spread through the sting of an infected mosquitoe, which pick-up the virus from infected birds. The illness cannot be spread person to person.

As reported by the Center for Disease Control, as of September 11, 2012, there have been a total of 2,636 cases reported in 46 States in the U.S., with 118 deaths. 1,405 of the cases were described as Neuroinvasive Disease Cases, which is the more severe form of the disease, with 1,231 cases of Non-Neuroinvasive Disease type of the disease reported.

West Nile Virus Prevention

West Nile Virus prevention measures consist of community-based mosquito control programs that reduce vector populations. Additionally, personal protection measures to reduce the likelihood of being bitten by infected mosquitoes, and the underlying surveillance programs that characterize spatial/temporal patterns in risk that allow health and vector control agencies to target their interventions and resources.

The easiest way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

When you are outdoors, use insect repellent containing an EPA-registered active ingredient. Follow the directions on the package. Many mosquitoes are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours. Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus

80 % of people who are infected with West Nile Virus will not show any symptoms at all.

20 % of the people who become infected with West Nile Virus will have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back.

One in 150 people infected with the West Nile Virus will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

If you have any of these symptoms, have been exposed to high numbers of mosquitoes, or have been repeatedly bitten recently, take the safe course and see your family physician immediately.

Article by Jim Donahue

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