West Nile Virus

Home   >   Infectious Diseases   >   West Nile Virus

Previously found only in West Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe, West Nile encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain caused by the West Nile virus. The disease is spread by the bite of an infected Northern house mosquito. Mosquitoes get the virus when they bite a bird infected with the virus. People over 50 and those with compromised immune systems are most at risk of developing serious illness.

Symptoms of the West Nile virus include headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands and a rash. More severe infection can include high fever, disorientation, stiff neck, headache, paralysis and coma. West Nile virus is not transmitted from person to person. Only infected mosquitoes can transmit the virus. The incubation period for the virus is from five to fifteen days. There is no vaccine or prescribed therapy for the West Nile virus.

Minimizing the mosquito population will help reduce the risk of transmission of this disease. You can reduce the number of mosquitoes by reducing the amount of standing water available for mosquito breeding around your home and in your neighborhood. Taking these easy to follow steps can reduce the mosquito population:

  • Throw out plastic containers, ceramic pots and other containers that are around your property

  • Discard any old tires you have laying around. Used tires are a popular breeding ground for mosquitoes

  • If you have any containers that must be left outdoors, drill holes in their bottom to allow water to drain off

  • Turn over wading pools when they are not in use

  • Clean clogged roof gutters. Roof gutters are often forgotten as a source of standing water

  • Don’t let water stagnate in birdbaths

  • Ponds and water gardens should be stocked with fish to prevent mosquito larvae from hatching

  • Make sure that you keep your swimming pool clean and chlorinated. Keep pool liners clear of standing water

  • Sweep away puddles of water; if left for five or more days, mosquitoes will even breed in a small puddle