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West Nile Virus

            The West Nile Virus has just recently been affecting the United States. It is an incurable virus that has killed many people in this country already. A close call occurred in Little Rock when a bird carrying the disease was found in the Governor's backyard. West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). These can prove to be deadly. West Nile virus is spread to humans by being bitten by an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that has the virus. As of now, mosquitoes are the only insect known to carry the disease and are the only known way of humans contracting the disease. There have currently been 25 cases of West Nile Virus in Arkansas and no deaths but a total of 3,737 cases in the United States alone and 211 deaths. The state with the most cases was Illinois at 776 cases and 48 deaths.
             The West Nile Virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1937. Outbreaks of West Nile virus first occurred in Africa, Egypt, Israel, Asia, Romania, Russia and France. Before 1999, however, West Nile virus had never before been found in the Americas. The most likely reason for its presence here is that the virus was brought to America by a bird carrying the disease that was imported or an infected person returning from a country where the virus is common and then a mosquito biting that person and giving it to someone else. .
             You can reduce your chances of catching West Nile Virus by protecting yourself from mosquito bites. To avoid mosquito bites you can apply insect repellent containing DEET when your outdoors, wear long sleeved clothes when possible and long pants with DEET on them, try to stay indoors at dawn dusk and early evening when mosquitoes are at their peak biting times, or you can limit the number of places available for mosquitoes to multiply by eliminating standing water which is a source for mosquitoes to lay their eggs.

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