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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has served notice that 47 states and the District of Columbia have confirmed cases of West Nile virus (WNV) in people, birds, or mosquitoes this year. All told, there have been 1,295 cases among humans. California has seen the most—258 cases, with 47 popping up in a single week this month, including 12 fatalities. Texas is second in the country, with 105 cases, but has a higher number of fatalities (18). Only about 1 in 150 people who are infected with WNV develop severe illness, the symptoms of which can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis. There is no definitive cure for WNV, but supportive care for serious cases includes IV fluids, breathing treatments, and general nursing care. Around 80% of people infected with WNV will not exhibit any symptoms at all. In areas where WNV has been confirmed, advise patients (regardless of their presenting complaint) to take CDC-recommended precautions against WNV, especially when mosquitoes are most active, between dusk and dawn:

  • Use mosquito repellants containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus, or para-menthane-diol
  • Wear long sleeves and full-length pants
  • Make sure the screens on your windows are free of holes
  • Empty standing water from flower pots, buckets, barrels and the like, as these are prime breeding grounds for mosquitoes
West Nile Virus is Back with a Vengeance
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