• West Nile Virus

    What is West Nile Virus?

    West Nile Virus is a potentially serious illness spread by mosquitos. Experts believe that West Nile Virus is established as a seasonal epidemic that flares up in the summer and continues into fall.

    What can I do to prevent West Nile Virus?

    The easiest and best way to avoid West Nile Virus is to prevent mosquito bites.

    *When outdoors, use insect repellents containing an EPA-registered insect repellent. Follow the directions on the package.

    *Many mosquitos are most active at dusk and dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours.

    *Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flowerpots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in birdbaths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used

    What are the symptoms of West Nile Virus?

    No symptoms in most people: Approximately 80 percent of people (4 out of 5) who are infected with West Nile Virus will not show any symptoms at all, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not.

    Mild symptoms in some people: Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms which can include fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days to several weeks.

    Serious symptoms in some people: A very small percentage of people (about 1 out of 150 people infected) will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

    How does West Nile Virus spread?

    West Nile Virus is most often spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitos become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitos can then spread West Nile Virus to humans and other animals when they bite.

    West Nile Virus is NOT spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

    How soon do infected people get sick?

    People typically develop symptoms between 3-14 days after the infected mosquito bites them.

    How is West Nile Virus treated?

    Because bacteria do not cause this illness, antibiotics do not help treat West Nile Virus. There is no specific treatment.

    What else should I know?

    If you find a dead bird, DO NOT handle the body with your bare hands. Contact your local health department [Lake County Health Department (219) 755-3655] for instructions on reporting and disposing of the body.

    For more information about the WEST NILE VIRUS, visit www.cdc.gov/westnile