West Nile Virus. Those three little words can strike fear in the hearts of many and have us reaching for our bottles of spray-on insect repellent. We’ve heard so much about this virus on the news, but do we have the facts we need? Dr. Karen Roos, a Neurologist with IU Health Neuroscience helps us sort it all out.
Officials have stated that 2012 is the worst outbreak in the last decade, and Dr. Roos agrees. “In fact, [West Nile Virus] has been confirmed in more than 30 states, including here in Indiana. More than 800 people in 32 states across the nation have been infected with the virus and at least 26 people have died, including [two] in Indiana.”
How do I prevent it?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) suggest the following
eliminating all standing water from your property, including flower pots, old tires, buckets, etc. If you have a tire swing, be sure to drill holes in the bottom so the water can drain out.
check your window screens and make sure they are in good condition
when outdoors, wear long sleeves and pants that have been sprayed with insect repellant
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of West Nile Virus can vary from person to person, but usually include fever, headache, body aches, and feeling tired. So how do you know when it’s just a summer cold, or when you should be checked for the virus?
Dr. Roos gives the following advice: "Any kind of a fever and headache, I would call your doctor. If you have fever and headache and stiff neck, I would come to the emergency room. If you have fever and headache and are confused, I would come to the emergency room." She also warns that "people over the age of 50 get sicker than younger people.”
She adds that this is a very serious illness, and if not treated, the can lead to permanent damage to the central nervous system or death.
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