People flock outside in the summer months soaking up the warmer weather and enjoying the extra hours of daylight offered by the season. Increasing temperatures bring the appearance of mosquitoes which should have people taking precautions when reveling in the outdoors.
West Nile Virus is transmitted to humans from mosquitoes that become infected after feeding on infected birds. The disease is not transmitted by being around an infected person. All lower 48 states have had West Nile cases reported beginning in 1999 when the disease first appeared in the US.
The more time a person spends outside the greater their chance of being infected with West Nile. As much as 80 percent of infected people will have no symptoms. Those who are symptomatic may suffer from a headache, body aches, joint pain, rash or feeling lethargic. One in every five infected people will experience symptoms. Most infected people make a full recover, but some suffer from fatigue and weakness for months afterward. A small population of those infected, less than one percent, will develop encephalitis or meningitis.
There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus aside from managing symptoms. Infected people with mild symptoms need rest and fluids. Those suffering from neurological problems caused by West Nile Virus may need hospitalization for treatment.
The majority of West Nile Virus cases are reported from June to September during the heat of the summer. The most effective way to protect yourself from West Nile is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Insect repellents should be used when spending time outside. Look for repellents with the ingredients DEET, pciaridin, IR3535 or para-menthan-diol. Mosquitoes are most active after dusk. Cover exposed skin with long sleeves and pants during this active period. Keep the perimeter of homes free of standing water in flowerpots, gutters, pool covers and pet water dishes.