West Nile Virus can Prove Deadly

west nile virus

A frightening chain of events can occur in nature as one thing leads to another.  The birds and the bees seem to manage our planet, bringing both good and bad outcomes.  Natural predators were designed to keep the flora and fauna under control, that is until disease crept in.  Being bitten by an infected mosquito with the West Nile virus can prove deadly.  The old, very young, and those with already weakened immune systems are the ones most at risk.

The West Nile virus has claimed several lives this year, but the deadliest year was in 2012, claiming close to 300.  Hot and humid weather can provide the perfect breeding conditions for mosquitos.  The annoying pests prey on open skin and bite in less than a second.

Not all mosquitos are infected, but the risk and danger is always there.  The best way to protect yourself is to use insect repellent, wear long sleeves and pants, or simply stay inside.  Standing water can also harbor the potential for an outbreak of the pesky carriers.  Some communities even spray fields in and around the city to help prevent populations of mosquitos from hatching.  Out of all mosquito bites, only less than one percent can result in the virus.  There currently is no vaccine to prevent the spread of the virus.

The West Nile virus originated in Africa and has made its way to North America within the last 15 years.  It progresses through various mammals and birds reaching its victim through a living injector, the mosquito.  The insect’s stinger is the perfect delivery device for passing on the virus.  While the mosquito bites and draws blood, the virus is left behind.  Many people contract the virus without knowing, as it takes two days to two weeks to display symptoms.

The Center for Disease Control, based in Atlanta, Georgia, has described serious symptoms of the West Nile virus.  Some symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, nausea, vomiting, and rashes.  Serious cases exhibit severe pain that could be diagnosed as encephalitis.  Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain which could led to death.  Meningitis could also be diagnosed.  This very serious condition attacks the brain membrane and spinal cord.  Meningitis can also cause paralysis and permanent damage.  These threats from contracting the West Nile virus can prove deadly.

The possibility of acquiring the virus is a scary thought as millions enjoy outdoor activities during the warm seasons.  People have become more aware of the virus from hearing daunting media coverage.  As with Lyme disease, carried by ticks, the West Nile virus has become a fact of nature.  It is something that could happen, however, it should be stressed that the cases of West Nile virus are quite low, due to people’s awareness.  The risks are dangerous after getting the virus, but the risks of getting it at all are low and most symptoms are very treatable.

As the West Nile virus can prove deadly, just stepping outside your front door can be a dangerous venture.  Life is unpredictable and the fear of the unknown is always there, so with all things the best means of prevention is simply taking precautions.  Thankfully most mosquitos die off when cold temperatures arrive, or at least take a long winter’s nap!


Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon


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