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American states take steps against West Nile virus


May 19, 2007:

Some of the states in the United States have started taking measures against the West Nile virus.

Health officials of Indiana have announced that a mosquito pool has tested positive for the West Nile virus in the state. This is the first sign of the virus in Indiana in 2007.

A veterinary epidemiologist of the Indiana State Department of Health said more positive virus pools are expected in 2007 and that there would be cases of humans beings infected by the West Nile virus this year.

The West Nile virus is transmitted to humans by mosquitoes that have first bitten an infected bird. A person bitten by an infected mosquito may show symptoms three to 15 days after the bite.

The virus usually results in a mild illness known as West Nile fever, which can cause fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph glands, or a rash. However, a small number of individuals can develop a more severe form of the disease with encephalitis or meningitis and other neurological syndromes, including flaccid muscle paralysis.

There is no specific treatment for West Nile Virus infections. Avoiding mosquitoes is the best prevention.

The Indiana Health Department has asked citizens to report to the department any sighting of dead crows, blue jays or raptors for testing.

Health officials say that though people over the age of 50 are at greatest risk for serious illness and even death from West Nile virus, people of all ages have been infected with the virus and have had severe disease.

The Department of Health and Human Services of Arkansas too has begun its statewide surveillance for West Nile Virus in wild birds.

In 2006, Arkansas had 29 confirmed human cases of West Nile Virus infection, which resulted in four human deaths from the disease. Arkansas witnessed 28 human cases of West Nile Virus infection in 2005, which also resulted in four deaths. In 2004, 28 human cases were reported, with no deaths from the disease.

West Nile Virus was first identified in the Western Hemisphere in the summer of 1999. The virus spread quickly across the United States. In 2002, there were over 4,000 human cases in the United States, resulting in 284 deaths.

The following steps can be taken to prevent mosquitoes from breeding in water bodies, including water in small containers, such as tree holes and tin cans, to large bodies of water like lakes or marshes:

  1. Dispose tin cans, plastic containers, ceramic posts or similar water-holding containers
  2. Remove discarded tyres from surrounding property
  3. Drill holes in the bottom of recycling containers that are kept outdoors. Make sure roof gutters drain properly and clean clogged gutters in the spring and fall
  4. Turn over plastic wading pools and wheelbarrows when not in use. Change the water in bird baths frequently
  5. Clean vegetation and debris from the edges of ponds
  6. Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs
  7. Drain water from swimming pool covers
  8. Use landscaping to eliminate stagnant water that collects on your property
  9. For protection from mosquito bites, make sure that all windows and doors have screens. One must stay indoors when mosquitoes are more active – from dusk to dawn. When moving outdoors, protective clothing should be worn besides using mosquito repellent.





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