Friday, September 7, 2012

West Nile in El Paso County

Posted By on Fri, Sep 7, 2012 at 1:05 PM

Creepy, and deadly
  • Eli Christman
  • Creepy, and potentially deadly.

County health has confirmed the first-ever 2012 case of West Nile virus in El Paso County.

From a press release:

The person developed symptoms consistent with West Nile Virus in late August, and has been hospitalized.

“It’s important that people take action to protect themselves from potentially serious illness associated with West Nile virus. Individuals who cannot avoid being outside during dawn and dusk need to take greater precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” said Dr. [Bill] Letson, medical director at El Paso County Public Health.

Those of you who were alive in the ’90s probably remember when West Nile hit American shores. Initially misdiagnosed as St. Louis encephalitis, the foreign virus first struck New York City. It swept through the bird population, dropping thousands of them onto the streets in Queens and the Bronx. By the time the Centers for Disease Control finally figured it what it was, seven people had died.

Soon after that, the virus spread throughout the country.

Read the full press release, which includes symptoms (which most often aren't deadly) and precautions, after the jump.

El Paso County, CO—A previously healthy adult is El Paso County’s first confirmed human case of West Nile Virus, according to the El Paso County Public Health.
The person developed symptoms consistent with West Nile Virus in late August, and has been hospitalized.
“It’s important that people take action to protect themselves from potentially serious illness associated with West Nile virus. Individuals who cannot avoid being outside during dawn and dusk need to take greater precautions to prevent mosquito bites,” said Dr. Letson, medical director at El Paso County Public Health.
West Nile Virus has an incubation period of between 2 — 14 days and occurs in three forms — fever, meningitis and encephalitis — all of which can be serious, with the latter two being most serious as they are most likely to cause long-term illness, disability and death. West Nile Virus can affect any age group.
SYMPTOMS
West Nile Virus involves fever, headache, body aches, neck stiffness, skin rash and muscle weakness. The more severe forms of West Nile virus are those that involve the central nervous system and lead to paralysis, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), and meningitis (inflammation of the membranes and fluids around the brain and spinal cord). Only 1 percent of persons infected with West Nile Virus develop central nervous system disease. People who experience severe headaches or confusion should seek medical attention immediately.
Key West Nile Virus Precautions:
· When involved in outdoor activities at DUSK and DAWN this is when greater precautions need to be taken because mosquitoes are most active during these times.
· Wear insect repellant with DEET.
· DRESS in pants and long sleeves outdoors when possible.
· DRAIN standing water outside in tires, flower pots and the like.
· TREAT standing water such as small ponds and livestock tanks with microbial larvicide “doughnuts,” which can be purchased in hardware stores.
West Nile virus was first detected in El Paso County in 2002; the first human cases were reported in 2003. For more information, visit www.elpasocountyhealth.org.

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