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Although West Nile Disease was identified in 1937 in Uganda, it was not detected in the Western Hemisphere until 1999. It is a 'life altering and even fatal disease'. In the U.S alone over 15,000 people have tested positive for West Nile since 1999 and of those over 500 have died. It is believed that many more people have contracted the disease with mild or no symptoms. West Nile is now considered a more serious illness than once thought due to ongoing health problems.
Let's look at the facts. West Nile is transmitted by an infected mosquito bite. You can also contract the disease through blood transfusion, organ transplant, congenital transfer (babies in the womb), and breast milk. Infected mosquitoes have been found in all 48 contiguous states.
West Nile has three common forms, the most well known form of course being the severe case that we hear about in the news. The severe form accounts for about 1% of the cases. There is also a mild form (20% of cases) and a symptom-free form (about 80% of cases). Those with the mild form experience flu-like symptoms often with fever and headache or stiff muscles which last 1-2 days. It is interesting to note that this "flu" is not contagious. The more severe form rapidly progresses beyond the inconvenient flu-like illness to high fever, severe headache, stiff neck, disorientation, tremors, muscle weakness, paralysis and coma. These symptoms can progress to Meningitis (inflammation of the spinal cord), Encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), acute flaccid paralysis (like polo), Guillain-Barre Syndrome ( autoimmune disorder), blindness and even death.
Obviously, this is a serious disease. At present there is no vaccine and there is also no specific treatment. Severe cases should go to the hospital while mild cases can be made comfortable at home.
Although hot weather encourages the virus to spread faster, September is peek mosquito season. Be careful to eliminate breeding sites - standing water - and repair household screens. Mosquitoes are most active shortly after dawn and just before sunset so take extra precautions at these times.
People most at risk are the elderly and others with lowered immune response.
Half of the people diagnosed with West Nile and showing mild to severe symptoms have ongoing health problems a year later. This has led many authorities to rate this disease as more serious than previously thought. Ongoing health problems include depression (25%), fatigue (84%) and tremors (20%).
Copyright 2006 Mrs. C.
This is an informational site. We cannot take responsability for what you do with the information contained here. This website contains medical research findings that I use to help me and my doctor make wise choices for my family. I share it here for your instruction. You the reader must take full responsibility for your own health and how you use this research. I expressly disclaim any responsibility for effects - good or bad - resulting from your use of this information. I recommend that you consult with your health care provider before implementing any programs or therapies found herein.