Summer Alert: West Nile Virus
Summer is here which means mosquitoes are quite active. It seems like they are everywhere, looking for their next victim. Often times, you don’t even know you are bitten until you feel the welt accompanied by redness and itching.
And, while that can be annoying, the real danger with mosquito bites is some may carry West Nile Virus. One bite is all it takes for an individual to become infected.
West Nile by the Numbers 2019
In fact, 26 states have reported West Nile Virus cases or infections through July of this year. If you only count human cases then the number is cut by more than half. In these instances, 10 states reported active West Nile Virus cases as of July 2019. Cases are split into two classes, neuroinvasive disease cases and non-neuro invasive disease cases. Of the two, non-neuro invasive is the easiest to deal with, but it can be problematic. Non-neuroinvasive West Nile Virus presents like the flu, if it presents at all. It’s estimated that 80% of individuals infected with non-neuroinvasive West Nile Virus never present any symptoms.
However, for those that do, the flu symptoms and fever are no walk in the park. Even at that though, it’s much better than being diagnosed with the neuroinvasive variety. This occurs in about 1 out of every 150 West Nile cases. In these instances, the virus infects the brain (encephalitis), or attacks the membrane encapsulating the brain (meningitis).
This can lead to horrible symptoms like headache, high fever, tremors, neck stiffness, disorientation, seizures, vision loss, muscle weakness, numbness, or in extreme cases, coma and paralysis. Even during treatment symptoms can last for weeks or months at a time. In a few instances they remain permanent, and 10% of all cases are fatal.
Minimize the Threat: Protecting Yourself from West Nile
So how do you avoid contracting the virus in the first place? Well, it takes a bit of work since we are never going to be able to stop mosquitoes from biting. The only option for humans is to cover up. Therefore, there are a few strategies you can take.
Stay Inside. For one, stay indoors as much as possible while keeping your place as cool as it can be. Mosquitoes do not like cold environments so they tend to stay away from air-conditioned spaces.
Dress Smart. Also, think about what you’re wearing when you go out. The more cover, The better off you will be. This means long sleeves, long pants, things like that. Of course, This may not be realistic in 100+ degree weather, but with cotton based fabrics and a fan you should be able to get comfortable enough to sit on your front porch.
Mosquito Spray. Also, consider some sort of insect repellent just be sure to check the EPA’s registered insect repellent list since a lot of insect repellents are full of things that simply don’t work. The EPA list will return a search of those insect repellents with the best active ingredients.
No Standing Water. Also, get rid of standing water as much as you can. If you have a kiddy pool , 5 gallon bucket, or some other container that could collect water after rain, make sure to empty them as soon as possible. Mosquitoes lay eggs in water so taking away their breeding ground is a great method of prevention.
Compounded Medication. Finally, consider speaking with your doctor too. If mosquitoes are prevalent in your area and you find yourself constantly itching, he or she may be able to prescribe a compounded topical ointment for your specific condition. Many people who receive mosquito bites on top of other conditions like eczema or psoriasis may require special compounded medications to provide relief and retain moisture.
Have Questions? Contact IPS Compounding
The good news for most of us is we will never suffer anything more than a few red welts and a bit of itching from mosquito bites. However, For those who live in hot, humid southern states, summer can be a battle. States like Alabama and Georgia may even consider the mosquito to be their state bird! Therefore, it’s important to take the potential for West Nile Virus seriously. Consider the information in this post and put it to use. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to one of our compounding pharmacy team members. We may not be able to get rid of mosquitoes, but we can certainly minimize their impact!
feature image credit: scidev.net