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WEST NILE VIRUS - August 22, 2012

Below is an advisory notice intended to keep you aware of a local health risk.

West Nile Virus (WNV) has been in the news recently as confirmed cases of this illness have been on the rise in Texas and have resulted in a number of deaths. WNV is an illness that is transmitted to humans by the bite of mosquitoes who have previously fed on infected birds. There is no evidence that WNV can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.

The incubation period of WNV in humans is 3 to 14 days. Around 80% of people who are infected with WNV show no symptoms at all and a significant additional number have only mild symptoms. These symptoms may last a few days and include fever, headache, body aches, and occasionally a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph nodes.

However, the disease can cause serious illness in some people. This can include neurological complications such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis, disorientation, stupor, and coma. Symptoms of sever disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent. Rarely death can occur. Serious illness and death occur more frequently in people over the age of 50 and those with weakened immune systems.

Fewer than 1% of those bitten by infected mosquitoes become severely ill. If you have the symptoms mentioned in this email, contact your healthcare provider immediately.

While there is no medication or vaccine to prevent WNV, you can reduce your risk of mosquito bites by implementing the "Four Ds":

  • - Dress: Reduce your skin exposure by wearing long pants, long sleeves, etc.
  • - Dusk and Dawn: Keep doors and windows tightly closed and reduce your time outdoors during these hours when mosquitoes are most active
  • - DEET: Use insect repellent that contains DEET
  • - Drain: Eliminate standing water outside, regarless of how small the amount. Water in empty cans, flower pots, low spots in any impervious material on the ground, tires, etc. can provide a place for mosquitoes to lay their eggs and multiply

For more information on the symptoms of WNV and links to additional information related to local WNV news, the number and location of cases in Texas, and preventing mosquito bites, go to www.healthyhorns.utexas.edu and click on "West Nile Virus".