Officials from the Metro Public Health Department have announced the first batch of mosquitoes with West Nile Virus (WNV) in Nashville. The department is advising civilians to take precautions on the matter.
West Nile Virus is an infection transmitted by mosquitos. In 80% of the human cases, the virus shows no symptoms.
Currently, WNV has no cure or prevention medicine, so authorities and health experts are inviting civilians to understand the virus and take proper prevention actions in their homes.
Officials from the Metro Public Health Department have announced the first batch of WNV in Nashville. Fortunately, no human cases have been reported, yet.
The Pest Management Division of the Health Department has been trapping and testing different batches of mosquitoes around the state, to prevent an epidemic. On Thursday, an active batch of WNV mosquitoes was found in Nolensville Road, Nashville.
— NashvilleHealth (@NashvilleHealth) May 26, 2016
Understanding the virus
West Nile virus is an abbreviation for Flavivirus kind. It belongs to a family of viruses that affect humans and mammals and are transmitted mainly by mosquitoes.
Birds are the original host of the WNV. However, mammals, reptilians, and amphibians have also been reported to carry the virus.
The virus is found in tropical and high temperatures. Scientists first discovered the virus in 1937 at Uganda and was considered as a minor risk virus for humans. But, in 1994 an outbreak of the virus attacked Algeria and patients developed encephalitis.
The virus spread periodically and appeared in the United States in 1994 at New York City, spreading to the rest of the country, Canada, Caribbean Islands, Latin America and Europe. In 2012, the United States experienced a terrible crisis of the virus, where 286 people died in Texas.
Although the vast majority of cases do not report any visible symptoms, a remaining 20 percent of the population show a physical response to the virus. Common symptoms may include: fever, headaches, tiredness, muscle or pain aches, nausea, loss of appetite, rashes, and vomiting.
The virus and its symptoms tend to last from one week to three. Soreness and muscle pains could last up to several months. Only one percent of the infected population suffer severe cases from the virus and could affect the central nervous system.
Weaker patients such as advanced adults, children or patients taking immunosuppressive drugs are very susceptible to the virus, as well as patients suffering from other medical diseases that weaken their immune system.
In severe cases, the WNV could cause encephalitis, meningitis, poliomyelitis and inflammation of the brain. In some severe cases, the virus has caused reversible paralysis while weakening the body.
WNV has been compared with dengue fever and in some ways to the recent Zika virus. Several studies of the virus components have shown the infection emerged around 100 years ago, although it has changed throughout the years.
Female mosquitoes transmit the virus as they are the only ones who feed on different types of blood. WNV is commonly found on birds, one of the mosquitoes first feeding options. The American crow, corvids, and the American robin are some of the most prevalent species of birds containing the virus.
It wasn’t until the U.S. outbreak that scientists noted the virus could also be transmitted in different methods such as blood transfusions, organ transplants, intrauterine exposures, and breastfeeding. Since then blood banks check for the virus when receiving blood from a donor.
Preventing the virus
On May 20, authorities reported a positive test for the WNV in Illinois, the Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced a captured blue jay bird was carrying the virus in Arcola Township.
The IDPH has consistently been testing different batches of mosquitoes, dead birds, sick horses and humans with possible symptoms to control the virus and prevent an epidemic.
Health authorities are advising civilians and local communities to prevent mosquitoes in their homes and communities by providing windows and doors with screens, eliminating standing water in yards, bird baths, clogged gutters, tires, trash cans and other recipients.
Other advice includes limiting time outdoors, especially at night hours which is when mosquitoes tend to be more present. People should also use a mosquito repellent approved by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), wearing shoes, socks, and long sleeve shirts to avoid getting bitten.
Authorities recommend reporting stagnant water locations, especially sitting for more than a week such as flooded yards, ditches, and tires that may produce mosquitoes.
Prevention is also important to protect from Zika virus, which has affected millions in Latin America and is spreading across the continent. Just as the WNV, this infection has no prevention methods but symptoms are more present than in the West Nile Virus.
Patients with Zika tend to show symptoms such as rashes all over the body, headaches, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, sore muscles, sleepiness, dehydration, and tiredness. In severe cases, Zika can cause body paralysis and in pregnant women, the risk of microcephaly is more present.