Half the states in the U.S. have already reported cases of West Nile virus this year. While the total number of cases is only 39, the concerning part is that West Nile “season” is generally considered to be the entire month of August. The fact that it’s already on the radar of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could be a sign that it will be a heavy year. The type of disease identified is also a point of concern. In the past, the CDC has reported that roughly one out of every 150 cases is classified as neuroinvasive—meaning patients can develop potentially fatal illness such as meningitis or encephalitis. This year, so far, 62% of the cases have been classified as neuroinvasive. It’s especially important for urgent care providers to be vigilant for West Nile because most patients who are ultimately diagnosed don’t know they have it. The most common symptoms include fever, headache, joint pain, skin rash, fatigue, and weakness.
Be Aware: West Nile ‘Season’ Is Starting Early, and It Could Be a Bad One