The West Nile Virus was first discovered in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937. Shortly thereafter, West Nile was found in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. Fast forward 81 years and the virus is running rampant throughout nearly every region of the world today, even the United States.
The West Nile Virus is not new to the United States. The first reported case of the West Nile Virus in the United States was in Queens, New York in 1999. So, why has the virus spread like wildfire in the past few months if it has been around since the 90s? The weather. This year, the weather throughout the United States leading up to the most mosquito-infested months created the perfect environment for mosquitoes. Humidity keeps mosquitoes active for longer hours during the day. Rain leaves puddles and standing water for mosquitoes to breed. Heat helps mosquitoes grow and speeds up their ability to spread viruses. All of these aspects combined created the perfect storm.
With all of these infected mosquitoes not only living but thriving on the weather patterns, the West Nile Virus may be more common than we know. Most people who are infected do not display any symptoms. Approximately 1 in 5 people with the West Nile Virus develops some sort of symptom(s) such as fever, headache, body ache, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. According to the CDC, these symptoms appear within 2-15 days of contracting the virus. Most people will recover completely without any treatment, while less than 1% of people infected will suffer serious, sometimes fatal, illnesses.
Diagnosing West Nile requires a blood test, and in some cases a spinal tap. Unfortunately, there is no treatment for the virus once an individual is diagnosed. In some cases, medication is given to patients to help relieve pain and help fight off the infection. However, once you have been infected with West Nile, it is believed that you are then immune to the virus for the rest of your life.
Most cases of the West Nile Virus are diagnosed between August and October, so we are not in the clear quite yet. Of course, any time mosquitoes are present there is a chance of the virus being spread. In order to reduce your risk of infection, be sure to protect yourself from those blood-thirsty pests by wearing pants and/or long-sleeved shirts, applying insect repellent, and most importantly running your DynaTrap throughout the day!