What you need to know about West Nile
If you have spent any time outside in Texas these days, you have probably had some rather annoying guests join your fun. Mosquitos.
West Nile Virus is a virus infection that is commonly transmitted to humans from mosquitos. The epidemic flares up in the summer months and can extend into the fall. Due to the massive amounts of rainfall and flooding in Texas recently, the mosquito population is booming, making it especially important for families to be aware.
Many people who have West Nile Virus actually never know they have it. 80% of people with West Nile Virus will never exhibit any symptoms. Of the 20% who do show signs of the infection, the symptoms are mild and include:
- Body aches
- Skin rash
- Swollen lymph glands
These symptoms generally last for just a few days, but can last as long as a few weeks. 1 in 150 people will exhibit severe symptoms, which include:
- High Fever
- Headache & Neck Stiffness
- Vision loss
Severe symptoms can last for weeks and lead to permanent neurological damage.
There is no treatment specifically for West Nile Virus, rather, you treat the symptoms. If you or a loved one are exhibiting mild symptoms, these can be treated at home, your primary care physician, or urgent care clinic like Urgent Care for Kids. Those with severe symptoms should seek medical attention immediately. In the case of severe illness, patients may be hospitalized to ensure they receive the proper supportive care.
Preventing mosquito bites prevents West Nile. Cover as much skin with clothing as possible, and use insect repellent whenever spending extensive time outside. Insect repellent can be a controversial and confusing for some parents, so here’s a review of CDC and FDA recommendations. When choosing a repellent look for a product with DEET, picaridin, IR3535, oil of lemon eucalyptus or methane-diol. Parents should note that DEET is not recommended for children under two months, and oil of lemon eucalyptus is not recommended for children under three years old. Also, the FDA advises against using insect repellent containing DEET with a sunscreen also containing DEET, as reapplication can have harmful effects. Be sure to wash off the repellent after you and the kiddos are done playing outside.
Dr. Duck and his staff at UCFK wishes you all a safe, happy, mosquito bite free summer!