West Nile

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Officials are warning that flood waters mean mosquitoes.

There are some areas that have seen some flooding after Hurricane Charley and state health officials are warning people that standing water creates a good breeding ground for mosquitoes that can carry potentially fatal diseases.

West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are two diseases carried by mosquitoes that can be transmitted to people.

State health officials say people should try to avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes feed and wear clothes that cover the skin. They also should use repellent and try to get rid of standing water.

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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. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.

  • 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; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

  • Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.

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

Eastern Equine Encephalitis

  • Eastern equine encephalitis is found mainly along the eastern seaboard of the United States and on the eastern Gulf coast. The virus grows in birds that live in freshwater swamps, and it is usually found only in these birds, and in the mosquitoes that feed on these birds.

  • Anyone can get eastern equine encephalitis, but the disease is more common in young children and in persons over the age of 55.

  • It has a complex life cycle involving birds and a specific type of mosquito, Culiseta melanura, that lives in marshes and swamps.

  • These mosquitoes feed only on birds, they do not feed on humans or other mammals. In rare cases, however, the virus escapes from its normal habitat and infects other mosquitoes that feed on both birds and mammals (including horses and humans).

  • These mosquitoes can transmit the virus to animals and people. The risk of getting Eastern Equine Encephalitis is highest from late July through September.


  • Most people infected with the virus have no symptoms, others get only a mild flu-like illness with fever, headache, and a sore throat.

  • In rare cases, infection of the central nervous system occurs, causing sudden fever and severe headache, and followed quickly by seizures and coma.

  • About half of these patients die from the diseases. Of those who survive, many suffer permanent brain damage.

  • Symptoms usually occur 5 to 15 days after the bite of an infected mosquito.


  • There is an eastern equine encephalitis vaccine for horses, but not for people. The only way to protect yourself is to keep mosquitoes from biting you.

  • If you must be outdoors at dawn or dusk, the time when mosquitoes that carry eastern equine encephalitis are most active, wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants. Use a mosquito repellent that contains DEET and follow the directions on the label.
  • Repair any holes in your screens and make sure they are tightly attached to all our doors and windows.

  • Mosquitoes can breed in water that collects in ditches, clogged gutters, old tires, wheelbarrows, and wading pool. Don't let stagnant water collect around your home.

    Source: http://www.state.nj.us/health/cd/f_eee.htm contributed to this report.