West Nile Strikes Again

By Mercedes Crile

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The West Nile virus is a dangerous vector-borne infectious disease that has affected nearly forty thousand people around the world. There are two different types of the West Nile. One of them is mild and not severe in most cases, while the other type causes brain inflammation and can result in death much more easily. This virus can vary from being as simple as the flu, to being a lethal threat.

How do you get the West Nile virus?

The West Nile virus can be transmitted in several different ways. This particular disease is mosquito-borne. Mosquito's can easily transmit the disease to birds. The birds who get the disease in their body, can then transmit the disease to humans, or the mosquito's may bite you and leave the bacteria in your body. This virus can not be spread by kissing someone or touching their skin. Although, it is much easier for mothers to give their unborn child the West Nile virus.

How do you know if you have contracted the disease?

There are many signs you may notice after you have contracted the disease. Approximately twenty percent of people who get the disease will experience the mild symptoms. If you have the virus, you may have a fever, headache, body aches, experience fatigue, and back pain. You may have a skin rash, swollen lymph glands, or eye pain. If you are one of the victims who contract the more serious type of the West Nile virus, you will most likely experience a high fever, a sever migraine, disorientation, dizziness, confusion, comas, tremors, muscle jerking, lack of coordination, convulsions, partial paralysis, muscle weakening, seizures, diarrhea, and vomiting.

What organs are infected by the West Nile virus?

You could severely damage several of your organs in your fight against the West Nile virus. One of the most common organs infected is the brain. Your brain tissue may possibly swell up and fill to your skull. If your brain touches your skull, you will be in severe pain and may possibly die. The nervous system is also infected, but only if you have experienced brain inflammation, disorientation, or confusion.
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What countries are at higher risk for outbreaks?

Many countries have been influenced by the West Nile virus. Africa is where the virus originated. It spread throughout Europe before going worldwide. Now, the virus is within the regions of Africa, the Middle East, Russia, Indonesia, India, and the Caribbean. All of these regions were containing the virus as of 1999. There is a possibility that other regions of the world have had the West Nile virus in their area before 1999, and have gotten disposed of it before 1999, when it was first recorded.

What people have a higher risk of getting the West Nile virus?

Some people may be at a higher risk for death than others if they already have a medical condition. If you have cancer or diabetes of any kind, you may have a harder time fighting off the virus. You may have severe infections if you have a kidney disease, such as the Parenchymal kidney disease or the Glomerular Renal disease.

The History behind the West Nile virus

The West Nile virus was first found in Africa and has been there for hundreds of years. Africa was the only continent that had the virus ongoing for a long time before it passed the borders to reach Romania, in Europe. From there, three years later in 1999, a virus was discovered in the United States of America. It first turned up in New York City and was found out to be the West Nile virus. Once reaching the United States, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention started to investigate when this virus first came into action.

They came up with many possibilities. In Central America in the 1500s, the Spanish Conquistadors showed up with many weapons. On their weapons, was bacteria from the disease of smallpox. During a fight against the Europeans, it was easily ended due to so many Europeans perishing. The Spanish conquistadors were already immune to the disease of smallpox, so not as many of them died. While the Spanish were in Central America, they gave the West Nile virus to the Native Americans. It became one of the worst catastrophes, when, in 1518, the Aztec Empire lost a fascinating amount from their population of thirty million. By 1568, three million Aztecs remained. This overpowering catastrophe was named 'The Great Dying.'

Hundreds of years later, in 2002, a virus was killing citizens all over the state of Louisiana and seven other states. This was just the beginning of the rampage. There were many warnings that came out on television warning everyone to stay inside as much as they could, and to protect themselves from mosquitoes.

A team of epidemiologists including Mike Bunning, Stacie Marshall, Judy Krueger, and Ellie Click joined together to attempt to locate the origin of the West Nile virus so that they could stop it as fast as they could. To find the location of the virus was difficult by itself, but it was more challenging once they learned that the incubation period could stretch as long as two weeks. Although it was quite hard, they did figure out that the virus started out in a small state in Africa.

In 1999, the first recorded outbreak of the West Nile virus started in a small city and killed 12% of its victims. out of approximately sixty residents. The biggest outbreak for this virus started in 2002 and lasted until 2007. There has been a recent outbreak of the West Nile virus that occurred in 2012 and 2013. There have been over a thousand deaths in the last fifteen years blamed on the West Nile virus. In the last fifteen years there have been 39,557 cases, and 1,668 people have perished from this disease since 1999. 114 of these fatal cases were caused from the non-neuroinvasive type of the West Nile virus. The other 1,554 deaths have been a result of the neuroinvasive type of the virus.

How many cases has there been in the United States of America?

Over the course of fifteen years, there have been 2,002 cases of the West Nile virus reported to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention in the United States of America. Iowa has had approximately thirty citizens contract the virus. The virus is particularly popular in the states of California, Louisiana, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Nebraska. In some states, there has been no cases in the last fifteen years. Some of these states include Washington, Colorado, Rhode Island, and Oregon. There is no accurate reason for why the West Nile virus is more common in these states, but many believe it is because of the climate and how much accumulated rain there is. Mosquitoes breed in water, so in that case, if you have more accumulating rain than another area, you will probably get more cases of the West Nile virus in your state.

What treatments are there for the West Nile virus?

Most people with the non-neuroinvasive type of the West Nile virus tend to get over the disease by their self. If you get the virus, you may find the need to get medications to reduce the pain in headaches or in muscle aches. Aspirin is a common reliever, but there have been cases where aspirin can cause life threatening conditions when you have the virus. This has not happened in a concerning amount of patients, so do not be too worried about the outcome, although you might want to consider it. Although there is not a direct cure for the West Nile virus like a vaccine, there is a drug that may slow down the side effects that go along with the disease. Interferon is a drug that has been proven to help people get over the virus more than people who try to conquer their battle with the virus on their own. It still needs research, but it is something to think about trying if you contract the disease.

How can you prevent the disease from getting to you?

There are many ways to prevent yourself from getting the West Nile virus. Staying away from mosquitoes as much as possible is the best way of prevention. You will want to stay inside if there are mosquitoes within your area, but if you go outside, it is best to completely cover your body. The worst times to be outside are during dawn, dusk, and early evening so you may want to try to avoid going outside during those times. You should always apply mosquitoes repellent before going outside and to anything you touch that is outside. Remove any standing water such as puddles. You will need to empty any unused swimming pools too. This will reduce the chances of mosquitoes multiplying, and the chance of them being near your household. To eliminate the possibilities of getting the West Nile virus, you should unclog you roof gutters and change the water in any birdbaths weekly.

What diseases are similar to the West Nile virus?

There are many similar diseases to the West Nile virus. One of them is the Dengue Fever. These two are similar because they both are mosquito-borne diseases, there aren't very many deaths, and they both include the side effect of severely stiff muscles. Encephalitis is another condition similar to the West Nile virus because they both include brain inflammation. Centro nuclear myopathies, is yet, another virus with something alike to the West Nile virus. These two both have problems concerning joints and muscles. Muscular atrophy is when a specific muscle or nerve movement is effected. Your muscles and joints also become very weak and hard to move. This is why the West Nile virus is similar to muscle atrophy. Brain Cancer is very alike to the West Nile virus is many ways, but it also is the same starting out with the symptoms. First, it starts with a gigantic headache, which then turns into your brain swelling, causing your brain to touch your skill at full capacity and experience extreme pain. Pneumonia is another disease similar to the West Nile virus because of its symptoms. The West Nile virus has many diseases similar to it which makes it very easy to confuse with other diseases. Differences between the diseases should be distinctly notified to ensure that people know what disease they contract if such situation is possible.

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