West Nile Threat

Just when the public thought the buzz of the West Nile Virus (WNV) was faded and gone away, a health advisory warning was issued in the city of Venice Beach, Calif. A dead bird found in the Los Angeles city had tested positive for the disease.

The WNV has a long history, its first detection in the United States dates back to 1999. What we know about WNV is that it’s carried by birds that are then preyed on by mosquitos, which subsequently affect us. Mosquitos are not picky on who they bite, whether it is an animal or human doesn’t matter, making the disease that much more unexpected and unfortunate. 

As reported by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Claire McCall, a Texas resident whose life has been plagued since she was bitten by a mosquito in 2008 and later diagnosed with WNV. Leading up to being diagnosed, McCall entered an emergency room with a 103 degree fever and went into a coma right away. Years later, McCall “still suffers with balance issues, has mild cognitive impairment, tremors and short-term memory loss. Fatigue, depression and chronic pain are a constant problem.”

What’s so scary to SoCal residents is that the latest upbringing of the disease appeared in our backyard of Venice Beach. Something that is even scarier though, is the symptoms that the West Nile Virus carries People infected can experience West Nile Fever, or West Nile Neuroinvasive disease. Symptoms usually occur 2-15 days after infection.

With West Nile fever your symptoms may include headaches, high fevers, a skin rash, or body aches. These symptoms may last from several days to several weeks. With West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease symptoms may include that of West Nile Fever with additional and more severe symptoms such as disorientation, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, and coma. This virus shouldn’t be taken lightly and residents in surrounding areas should start protecting themselves to reduce their chances of catching the virus.

Helpful tips to protect yourself include wearing repellent, making sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes. And lastly eliminate all sources of standing water, mosquitoes lay their eggs on standing water. The public is encouraged to report dead birds to help with WNV surveillance and control efforts. Taking the precautions will not only help you, it will ensure a safe and sane community.