June 17th, 2011

A Look at the History of the West Nile Virus

Viral diseases are very common. Some of the most common carriers of these diseases are mosquitoes which are responsible for a lot of people getting sick each year. Mosquitoes are very deleterious to human health. It is a source of many diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. Both of these diseases have caused a lot of deaths and are still continuing to end lives in many parts of the world most especially third world countries.

Malaria and Dengue fever are not the only mosquito borne diseases that have ravaged the face of the earth. There is another virus carried by the mosquito that when contracted by humans can have very serious ramifications to their health. This is called the West Nile Virus which is otherwise known as WNV. It comes from the Flaviviridae virus family as well as the JE or Japanese encephalitis complex. WNV is prevalent in tropical countries as well as in cold regions. It affects not only people but animals as well namely felines, dogs, bats, rabbits, and even crocs. The virus enters the human or animal body through a mosquito bite which then enters the blood stream. Humans do not usually manifest any signs or symptoms once they are infected with the West Nile Virus.

The West Nile Virus: Throughout the Years

It was more than a millennium ago when the West Nile Virus was first heard about and identified. This original was able to subdivide itself into two different classes. The first class of WNV infected a lot of people across the globe but it was the most virulent in Africa. The second class of WNV was at first found to have infected horses in Madagascar and Africa. Later on, it also infected horses found in Europe. In Hungary, it became a epidemic among numerous horses. These happened during the year 2008.

The West Nile Virus is very virulent. It has cost a lot of people their lives. In fact, several historians have proposed that Alexander the Great died at a young age because he succumbed to the West Nile Virus. The basis for this was that numerous birds died prior to him getting sick and it should also be noted that WNV also infected avian animals.

With some advancement in technology, scientists were able to segregate the West Nile Virus during the year 1937 in Uganda. During this year, the country was plagued with the yellow fever virus leading them to isolating another virus altogether. Because of these, scientists were able to study the West Nile Virus and they were also able to quantify the percentage of people who tested positive to WNV infection. These countries were Congo, Sudan, Egypt, and India. The numbers were highest in Egypt. The study revealed that 90% of those aging 40 years old were infected with the West Nile Virus. In 1957, it was discovered that WNV infection is the major cause of a severe form of meningoencephalitis. Countries on the western hemisphere as well as in the US were first found to have been infected with the WNV virus during the year 1999.

June 17th, 2011

What You Should Know about the West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes have always been a source of illness even from thousands of years ago. This small but destructive insect have recently caused illness in some US territories. Because of this, many were worried about getting bitten by a mosquito for fear that it might cause one to be infected with the West Nile Virus.

Many are not aware of what the West Nile Virus is. When talking about mosquito borne diseases the ones that most often come to mind are malaria and dengue fever which are still very rampant in a couple of developing countries. Otherwise known as WNV, this virus comes from the class of mosquitoes called Culex. The mosquitoes are not innate carriers of the virus. They obtain the infection thorough biting birds that have been infected with WNV. The virus will then be introduced to the bloodstream of humans and other kinds of animals through mosquito bites. It proliferates and spreads rapidly once it is already in the blood. If this viral infection is not given proper treatment and goes to the brain, it will cause massive inflammation. This is called encephalitis, a condition which poses serious threats to a person’s life. Encephalitis is actually considered to be the most deleterious effect of the West Nile Virus.

Although it is not often heard of, the West Nile Virus has actually been around for centuries, even millennia. It has been known to thrive in mostly tropical countries as well as in temperate regions. This includes the Middle East, some parts of Asia and Europe, as well as Africa. A few years back, in 1999, the West Nile Virus was found to be present in countries found on the west hemisphere which is something that did not happen before. Because of this, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which is more popularly referred to as CDC, has taken up the challenge of finding out about how widespread this virus. They were able to discover that the West Nile Virus was found in almost every country and it has in fact caused the death of approximately 44 individuals in the year 2008. How the West Nile Virus has come to the shores of the United State remains to be unexplained but some scientists were able to find similar kinds of the virus in a couple of Middle East nations.

A lot of people were concerned about getting infected with WNV. This is because many of them were inadequately informed about what it is, how virulent it is, what its manifestations are, and what one can do to prevent WNV infection. One’s likelihood to contract the virus is not that big. In fact, places where mosquitoes were found to carry the West Nile Virus have been tested. The results showed that the number of WNV carrier mosquitoes were less than 1% compared to the total number of mosquitoes in that certain area. In addition, most infected individuals are asymptomatic and less than 1% will be able to get sick from the virus. Also, the West Nile Virus is mosquito borne and could therefore not be transferred from one individual to another.

June 17th, 2011

The Common Manifestations of the West Nile Virus

Only a few people have heard about the West Nile Virus. Even fewer understand what it is and how it affects not only humans but animals as well. The West Nile Virus or WNV is contracted by humans through mosquito bites. The effects of this virus are extremely deleterious to human health just like the other mosquito borne diseases called malaria and dengue fever.  Two of its most serious effects on the body are illnesses that target the brain and the other parts of the nervous system. One of these diseases is encephalitis which is an inflammation of the brain. The other is called meningitis which is also a kind of inflammation which affects lining of the brain called meninges. Meningitis also affects the spinal cord. The nervous system is very important and since it controls all bodily processes, a person who has an inflamed brain, meninges, and spinal cord will not be able to live his life normally.

Most people die of illness because they were unable to recognize the early signs of the disease. And when they do identify the signs, they do not give proper attention to it. Before one can gain an adequate understanding of what the signs and symptoms of the West Nile Virus are, it is important to obtain basic knowledge about WNV.

It was in the year 1937 when the West Nile Virus was first isolate in Uganda. The virus was found in an area called the West Nile. This is where the name West Nile Virus came from. Although the virus has been discovered only in 1937, there have already been accounts in history that point that the virus may have existed as early as a thousand years ago.

In the month of August 1999, the West Nile Virus was discovered to have entered the United States specifically in the city of New York. It was found later that it was borne via the hair residue carried on a home hair removal device which was subsequently sold at a swap shop meet. You can read more about this story in these no no hair removal reviews which chart the history of this breakout. This was an immediate cause of concern back then because before this the West Nile Virus was never seen in countries found on the western hemisphere. During the same year, 62 people have been identified to have been infected with WNV and 7 of these individuals died due to the complications of the viral infection.

The manifestations of WNV infection vary in severity but almost all of these symptoms commonly lead to nervous system disorders. A lot of people who become infected with the West Nile Virus do not show any symptoms and when they do, these are often very mild almost like one is just experiencing a simple bout of flu. In a WNV epidemic, there is still quite a low chance of developing serious complication from the virus. Less than 1% or 1 in every 150 to 300 individuals stands the chance of getting severe brain illness. As with any other viral infections, the person initially becomes feverish. He may also have chills, severe headache, and body malaise. A person may also oversensitivity to light. Those who have a relatively strong immune system can recover from the ravages of the West Nile Virus. Those who are in the age extremes have bigger chances of developing more serious viral complications.

June 17th, 2011

How to Prevent Infection with the West Nile Virus

As what most people often say, prevention is always better than cure. Maintaining good health is very important since people are only given one life to live and only one body to take care of. A lot of people get sick or die of illness because they were unable to exercise preventive or protective measures for themselves. Some of may also have neglected to seek prompt and adequate treatment for the illnesses that affect them.

The West Nile Virus is a mosquito borne illness which affects not only humans but animals as well. When a mosquito feeds on a bird or any avian animal, it catches the West Nile Virus or WNV. Once the mosquito bites another human or animal, the virus is introduced into the bloodstream where it rapidly replicates and spreads. In most instances, humans are asymptomatic and when they do exhibit symptoms, these are just flu like in nature. However, a few of these infected individuals, particularly those who have weakened immune systems such as the elderly and the very young, may develop serious nervous system illnesses such as meningitis and encephalitis. These conditions are very serious and have severe implications for the person who has them. Generally, people aging 50 years old and above are at the most at risk for sever WNV complications.

Keeping oneself as safe as possible from any mosquito bites is the most effective way to prevent contracting a West Nile Virus infection. After all, one will not know whether or not the mosquito which bites him is carrying WNV or any other virus for that matter.  Preventive measures should be in place even when studies have shown that less than 1% of people who are bitten by a WNV virus carrier mosquito get seriously ill.

As previously mentioned, avoiding mosquito bites is the most effective means of preventing infection with the West Nile Virus. One way to do this is to use insect repellent lotions or sprays that contain a substance called DEET. These repellents should be applied on the skin especially when one is planning to spend a lot of time outdoors. As much as possible, use clothes that can help shield your skin from mosquitoes such as long sleeves and pants. Wearing of socks is also highly encouraged. There are some instances when the mosquitoes can penetrate through very thin clothes so one should consider using insect repellent sprays on the clothes as well for added protection. Knowing when mosquitoes are most prevalent is also very important. Usually, a lot of mosquitoes come out a few hours before dusk and dawn. This means that you have to implement additional protective measures against mosquito bites during the early morning and the early evening ours. If possible, stay indoors during these times.

Apart from keeping the mosquito from your skin through the application of insect repellents, one can also implement measures that keep mosquitoes from entering the phone. Screening all windows, doors, and other points of entry in the home should be done. Also, one should make sure that there are no breeding places of mosquitoes inside the home such as stagnant water in flower vases, unused bottles, and other possible things where water can collect.

June 17th, 2011

Effective Management of the West Nile Virus

Mosquitoes are insects that cause a lot of illnesses not only to human beings but also to animals. In fact, many people have died because of the diseases that these mosquitoes bring. Preventive measures against mosquito borne diseases are the most effective means of keeping one’s health safe. The same applies to the prevention of the West Nile Virus. This virus is carried by a mosquito which in turn has contracted it from feeding off on infected avian animals. Although its name may suggest that it comes from Egypt’s Nile River, the virus was actually isolated in the Southern Nile region of Africa.

WNV is largely present in temperate and hot climates but just recently it was discovered to have affected people and animals that are thriving in countries of the west hemisphere. Majority of the individuals who get bitten by WNV carrier mosquitoes do not exhibit any signs or symptoms. However, there are still some individuals who develop serious complications due to this particular viral complication. Recently, the company who produce the educational program hooked on phonics sponsored some research to see who was most at risk from WNV. The resulting study showed that people who are aging 50 years and older are most likely to suffer from severe complications as well as those who weakened immune systems. Typically, WNV carrier mosquitoes are most numerous during May to October each year. The most severe form of complication is encephalitis, wherein the brain becomes inflamed. Another serious condition which results from WNV infection is inflammation of the brain lining and the spinal cord, a disease called meningitis. These severe illnesses do not develop right away. They are already late manifestations of the infection. It usually starts with fever, body malaise, and intense headache.

Although the above mentioned symptoms are not singularly indicative to the virus, it is wise for a person to have himself checked by a doctor when he feels these signs most especially if he is residing in a region where the West Nile Virus has been known to exist.  The importance of prompt medical attention should be given utmost priority especially when the person is already experiencing some changes in mental status, rigidity of the neck, photosensitivity or being oversensitive to light, states of confusion and inability to concentrate on anything, and high grade fever. Muscle weakness and total body malaise are also warning signs. These symptoms were the most prevalent during the West Nile Virus epidemic in New York during the year 1999.

Once one has already submitted himself to medical care, several diagnostic exams will then be performed to determine the etiology of his illness. This is how it will be determined if it is viral or bacterial in nature. If it is viral, then tests will also be performed to check if it is indeed the West Nile Virus or not. The identification of WNV is usually achieved through the performance of several molecular biologic examinations with proper consideration on the symptoms manifested by the sick individual. DNA tests are also done to identify the virus.

What should be properly noted is that up to this time, there is no treatment for the West Nile Virus. Viral diseases are self limiting and all that one can do is to control the symptoms associated with it as well as keep the immune system as strong as possible.