West Nile Virus in St. George Utah? (A Basic Introduction to West Nile Virus)
There has been a lot of talk about West Nile Virus over the last couple of days. With the first aerial application of a mosquito adulticide in 40 years being applied over the Dallas-Fort Worth area, strong opinions are being voiced on both sides of the argument. This blog won’t be a hardline stance on either side but a statement of objective facts to better inform you the reader.
What is West Nile Virus? West Nile is a virus with flu-like symptoms, head-ache, body-ache, fever, swollen lymph glands, and in some cases a skin rash. In sever infections people have reported high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, paralysis and in rare cases death. West Nile Virus can case West Nile Encephalitis. Encephalitis is the swelling of the brain.
West Nile Virus is transmitted to human through mosquitos, while the virus itself originates in birds. The most commonly sighted culprit for carrying West Nile Virus is the American Crow. However, over seventy different types of bird have been identified to carry West Nile. A mosquito that has bitten an infected bird and then bitten a human can transmit the virus. In pest control we call this vectoring. The mosquito is a vector (transporter) of the virus not the cause of it. The incubation period for the virus is typically 3-15 days.
West Nile Virus has been identified in Washington County. The first recorded case of West Nile Virus was in 2003, and yes we have had at least one virus found in Utah this year. As of August 21, 2012 Washington County has only found West Nile Virus in non-humans. Meaning, the local authorities have only identified West Nile Virus in at least one bird or one mosquito. The information as it has been given to me as of August 28, 2012 (the date of this blog) is that no humans in the state of Utah have been infected with West Nile Virus. (Located below is the Center for Disease Control, CDC, West Nile Virus by the county map: updated last on August 21, 2012.)
Despite what you might hear on the five o’clock news, West Nile Virus is typically not a live threatening sickness. In fact roughly 80% of people infected did not know they had West Nile. Typically your body will fight off West Nile Virus just as it fights the common flu. The truth is less than 1% of people bitten by mosquitos infected with West Nile Virus develop serious central nervous system illnesses like West Nile Encephalitis or West Nile Meningitis. (Roughly 1 out of 150)