West Nile virus infections are on the rise with 1,118 cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control so far this year, the highest tally since the virus was first found in the United States in 1999.
Virginia's two reported cases, however, pale in comparison to the 298 reported in Texas. There have been no reported infections in Northern Virginia.
The CDC reports 75 percent of this year's West Nile infections are from five states: Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Dakota and Oklahoma. So far, 47 states have reported infections and 41 people have died from the virus.
West Nile symptoms include:
- Most (80 percent) of people infected with West Nile won't have any symptoms.
- Some (20 percent) may experience fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands, a rash. These symptoms can last for a few days, though symptoms have been know to linger for several weeks.
- A few (one in 150 people infected) may experience a high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.
The virus spreads to people, other mammals and birds through mosquito bites. People cannot spread West Nile by touching or kissing an infected person.
Fairfax County Health officials offer the following tips to limit contact with mosquitos.
- "Tip and toss" containers with standing water. Mosquitos breed in a teaspoon or more of water that doesn't circulate or evaporate. This means water remaining in birdbaths, tarps, wading pools, potted plants and other common items found on household property should be dumped out.
- Clean out gutters and downspout screens to keep water from collecting.
- Treat corrugated plastic drainpipes connected to building downspouts with mosquito larvicide.
- Wear loose long-sleeves and pants and use insect repellant to deter bites.
All information provided by the CDC and Fairfax County Health Department.
Call 703-246-2300 or visit the FCHD mosquito web page for more info.