West Nile Virus Cases Increase; NPMA & CDC Urge Caution
Government Officials Warn of Public Health Threat
Mosquito season is in full swing and with it the increased threat of West Nile virus (WNV) infection. As of July 31, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 241 cases of WNV disease and four deaths have been reported. This is the highest number of cases reported through the end of July since 2004. These figures grow daily as more West Nile virus reports are confirmed. Government health officials and the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) experts are warning that this mosquito season may pose a severe public health threat. In fact, health officials have said that WNV cases in Texas are at epidemic levels.
“The CDC is closely monitoring West Nile virus reports from around the country,” said Roger Nasci, Chief of CDC’s Arboviral Diseases Branch. “Compared to this time last year, the number of reported human cases is much higher. People spending time outdoors, particularly in areas of the country where WNV activity is increasing, should take precautionary measures to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes.”
”In addition to protecting oneself, NPMA is asking the public to help by limiting the number of mosquito breeding grounds around their homes. Mosquitoes can breed in as little as half an inch of water, so it’s important to take stock of any items that may collect water after a rainfall such as flowerpots, children’s pools and toys, grill covers, and others,” advised Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA.
WNV is a mosquito-borne virus transmitted through the bite of a mosquito that has fed on an infected bird. “In most cases West Nile virus is a mild infection with symptoms so slight they can go unnoticed, or feel like a summer flu,” said Dr. Jorge Parada, medical spokesperson for the NPMA. “In extreme cases, it can be a potentially life threatening infection with higher fever, head and body aches, worsening weakness, confusion and even coma. Anyone experiencing these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.”