• Friday, December 02, 2022

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What is the West Nile virus, and should you be worried?

Recent reports reveal that the virus has entered Europe and cases of West Nile virus have reportedly surged in Italy.

 

 

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By: Kimberly Rodrigues

The West Nile virus (WNV) is a relative of the Zika and yellow fever viruses. It reportedly causes symptoms that are similar to the flu and is spread by infected mosquitos, reports the Mirror.

The virus is caused when you are bitten by an infected mosquito resulting in a number of symptoms including a skin rash and feeling ill.

Experts state that the mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. The virus is then spread to humans and animals.

Recent reports reveal that the virus has entered Europe and cases of West Nile virus have reportedly surged in Italy.

On Tuesday, the New York City Health Department announced that the virus has been detected in two people – one in Brooklyn and another in Queens.

Also, according to the health department’s announcement, a total of 54 cases and four deaths have been reported throughout the country this year, said The Indian Express.

The New York City health department has reportedly said in New York, the number of mosquito pools that tested positive for West Nile virus is the “highest number ever recorded” at 1,068 across the five boroughs, in comparison to 779 positive pools this time last year.

The health department informs, New York detected its first case of WNV back in 1999. Over the past decade (as few as six to as many as 30 people test positive annually).

The death rate is reported to be about 14% and the first of the two cases this year was detected at the end of last week, The Indian Express states.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most people who are infected by WNV do not develop any symptoms or may experience mild to moderate illness.

However, the Mirror informs that WNV is a potentially serious illness (with about one in 150 infected people) developing severe symptoms.

The severe symptoms could be encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord), informs the New York department of health.

Also, symptoms of the WNV can reportedly last for a few days, however, some cases have also lasted for several weeks.

The good news is that approximately 80% of people infected with the virus have reportedly shown no symptoms at all, the Mirror states.

Also, according to the NHS, “The infection usually goes away on its own without treatment.” It adds, “People aged over 50 or with another condition, such as cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure, are more at risk of getting seriously ill.”

Cases of WNV supposedly occur during the mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through to autumn, and though no cases have been reported in the UK, Italy has reportedly seen a sudden spike in infections.

Although rare, the Mirror said, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has warned of some 292 cases reported in Europe this year.

However, the NHS has reportedly stressed that the virus is not contagious, as a person can only get infected after “being bitten by an infected mosquito.”

Here are some signs of the WNV as reported by the Mirror:

• Confusion

• Seizures

• Muscle weakness

• Disorientation

• Headaches

• Neck stiffness

• Vision loss

• Numbness

• Stupor

• Tremors

• Paralysis

Experts advise that if you develop any symptoms of WNV within two weeks of being in an affected area, you should contact a doctor.

Eastern Eye

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