Tips and Hints
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West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus is an infection most often spread to people by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. A mosquito becomes a West Nile carrier when they have fed on infected birds and then spread the virus when they bite humans and other animals. In temperate climates, West Nile infections mostly occur during warm weather months when mosquitoes are most active. People can start developing symptoms between 3 to 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. You cannot spread West Nile through casual contact such as touching or kissing another person.
West Nile affects your central nervous system. Symptoms can vary from person to person. About one in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop severe illness. These symptoms can include high fever, neck stiffness, headache, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and confusion. These symptoms can last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.
Milder symptoms can affect about 20% of people who have been infected. These can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, extreme tiredness and in some cases, swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. These can last for a few days or up to several weeks.
Approximately 80% of people will not show any symptoms at all when they have been infected with West Nile.
There is no specific treatment for someone who is infected. A doctor may provide treatment to help relieve symptoms, or in more severe cases, hospitalization may be required.
The best and easiest way to avoid West Nile is to try a prevent mosquito bites. Use insect repellent that contains DEET. Avoid areas containing large numbers of mosquitoes and try staying indoors from dusk to dawn when they are most active. Always wear long sleeves and pants of lighter colours.
If you find a dead crow or blue jay, use a shovel and place the dead bird on a double plastic bag or use the double plastic bag to pick the bird up and place it in the garbage. You can also check with your local public health service and see if they are still collecting dead birds for monitoring.