West Nile Virus is most common during the summer and fall months and the number of infections usually peaks in mid-August. The virus is transmitted by infected mosquitoes and spread to humans, birds, horses and other animals. Since mosquitoes can breed in as little as a quarter inch of water, the recent rain may attract more mosquitoes. Many factors impact when and where outbreaks occur, such as weather, numbers of mosquitoes that spread the virus, and human behavior.
The Wicomico and Worcester County Health Departments provide the following tips to help prevent contact with mosquitoes and reduce risk of infection by the West Nile virus and EEE:
- Stay indoors at dawn and dusk.
- Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors.
- Use an EPA-registered insect repellent and follow package instructions.
- Get rid of mosquito breeding sites.
- Remove all discarded tires from property.
- Dispose of water-holding containers.
- Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly.
- Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out.
- Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they are not in use.
Most people infected with West Nile virus will show no symptoms; however, some people may have mild to severe symptoms that may include swollen lymph glands, a rash, fever, headache, disorientation and others. The easiest and best way to avoid this virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Signs and symptoms of Eastern Equine Encephalitis include fever, headache, irritability, restlessness, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, cyanosis, convulsions, and coma. There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, EEE virus infection. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care. Anyone who has symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider
For more tips and information about West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis, please visit our websites at http://worcesterhealth.org or http://wicomicohealth.org.