It’s already been reported that there are going to be more mosquitoes than usual this summer thanks to the warm winter. Now preliminary samples have shown that the increase in mosquitoes will also mean an increase in cases of West Nile Virus.
States have already begun monitoring mosquito populations for West Nile Virus, and results so far suggest there may be more cases this summer of the potentially fatal disease.
4 out of 5 people will not have West Nile Virus symptoms, which can be transmitted similarly to other blood borne diseases and is routinely screened for at blood and organ donation centers. Most people who get West Nile Virus symptoms will have the less deadly West Nile Fever, which causes flu like symptoms including severe fatigue, sweating, chills, headache and swollen lymph nodes.
Rarely, West Nile Virus symptoms include encephalitis, a potentially deadly swelling of the brain caused by inflammation. In other rare cases West Nile Virus symptoms can affect other organs including the liver, heart, pancreas and spleen.
Although it’s rare enough that there haven’t been extensive studies of West Nile Virus, it’s probably reasonable to assume that severity of West Nile Virus symptoms is correlated with immune system strength—those with more severe symptoms having a weakened immune system. (It’s also possible that there is a genetic factor for susceptibility).
In any case, take care to prevent mosquito bites this summer. Mosquitoes love still water like ponds, and are most active at dawn and dusk. You can use a natural repellent like lemon eucalyptus oil, or a chemical repellent like DEET. You can also take steps to strengthen your immune system, just in case!
Add your thoughts below, and report any outbreaks of West Nile Virus that haven’t made the news yet: