West Nile Outbreak

Four confirmed deaths from the West Nile Virus have even prompted Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster to declare a health emergency.

West Nile Virus can inflame the brain and bring about death. But not everyone who contracts the mosquito-borne virus faces death. Most people who contract the virus suffer flu-like symptoms.

It's the elderly and those with weakened immune systems who are at more risk.

At this time, there is no specific treatment for West Nile. Many have recovered with the help of intravenous fluids and overcoming other infections.

Louisiana and other areas have been spraying chemicals to fight the outbreak.
People are purchasing record amounts of insecticide and wearing long pants and long sleeves when outside.

They also have been urged to watch for dead birds and stay away from stagnant water, which becomes a breeding ground.

Here in the Wiregrass, four people have been diagnosed with symptoms that could possibly be from Encephalitis or West Nile Virus. Tests have been run on those cases and we're still awaiting the results.

At 7 p.m. Monday, there will be a town meeting at the Dothan Civic Center.

The meeting will give citizens an opportunity to talk to a panel of experts about concerns they may have about the virus.

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West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report