Image for article titled Is West Nile Virus Getting Bad Again?



Photograph: STEKLO (Shutterstock)



West Nile virus has been present in a report variety of mosquitoes within the New York Metropolis space, with at the very least two circumstances identified to have occurred in people. For those who weren’t round for the final huge West Nile panic about 20 years in the past, you could be questioning simply what this illness is and whether or not you have to be frightened about it.

What’s West Nile virus?

The West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and it could possibly infect birds and another animals, together with horses, along with folks. Most individuals who contract the virus received’t have any signs. About 20% may have a fever and flu-like signs, however in uncommon circumstances—one in each 150 folks, the CDC estimates—the virus may cause extra critical, neurological signs.

In these extra extreme circumstances, the mind or its membranes might develop into infected. Signs might embody neck stiffness, confusion, weak spot, convulsions, numbness, imaginative and prescient loss, or paralysis. One in 10 folks with extreme sickness from West Nile might die.

The place is West Nile a difficulty?

The virus and the mosquitoes that carry it are current all through the continental United States. The realm with the best variety of circumstances, based mostly on historic information, happen within the Western half of the nation, and are commonest within the space that runs from North Dakota to Colorado.

Why is that this taking place now?

West Nile first made headlines within the early 2000’s, but it surely by no means actually went away. The New York Metropolis Division of Well being factors out that elevated temperatures make mosquitoes reproduce extra shortly, which most likely contributes to an elevated unfold of the illness. The climate within the southwestern U.S. has additionally been wetter than common, which is nice information for mosquitoes and unhealthy information for us.

Whereas the New York findings are within the information now, they’re not the one circumstances of West Nile. California, for instance, has already had 12 human circumstances this yr.

What ought to I do?

As with every mosquito-borne sickness, one of the simplest ways to guard your self is to keep away from getting bitten. A good bug spray that features DEET or one other EPA-registered pesticide (like picaridin) is vital. You can too defend your self through the use of window screens to maintain mosquitoes out of your property, by carrying lengthy sleeves and lengthy pants the place doable, and through the use of a fan to maintain mosquitoes away whenever you’re chilling on the porch.

Mosquito management can be a good suggestion, generally. Mosquitoes breed in puddles of standing water, so you probably have any buckets, flowerpots, birdbaths, potholes, or different locations the place water collects, think about dumping and cleansing them commonly, or treating them with larvicide (which kills the aquatic child mosquitoes) in the event that they can’t be dumped.