The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says West Nile cases are up this year, with a total of 241 cases, including 4 deaths, making it the deadliest summer for the virus since 2004. The majority of the cases have been reported in Texas, Oklahoma and Mississippi.
Symptoms of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and rash, although the majority do not show any indication of illness. Less than one percent develop potentially fatal neurologic illness like encephalitis or meningitis. There are no medications to treat West Nile or any vaccines to prevent it.
Since West Nile is transmitted by infected mosquitoes, cases peak in the summer, usually in mid-August. So the worst might be yet to come. Here are some tips to protect your family:
- Use insect repellent when you are outside
- Wear long sleeves and pants when you can
- Keep screen doors closed and repair holes
- Keep doors and windows shut altogether and use air conditioning
- Eliminate standing water in flower pots, the kiddie pool, etc.