Control and prevention continue to be the main task for authorities across the country, yet one of the most important facts are citizen education and conscientization of the West Nile Virus and its consequences.

The United States has been fighting the virus since its first discovery on 1999 and performing conscientization campaigns to make citizens understand the threat of the mosquito-transmitted virus. Local authorities, from several states in the country, are aware of the spreading of the virus and are taking continuous measurements against it. Massachusetts, for example, has seen a reduction of mosquito numbers but continue to fight the virus. Federal authorities and entities are performing Arboviral surveillances to determine the increment or reduction of mosquitos carrying West Nile Virus, which remains a threat just as the Zika virus.

WNV in Nashville
The first batch of mosquitoes with West Nile Virus in Nashville was confirmed by the Metro Public Health department. Credit:

Although in many cases the West Nile Virus doesn’t cause major health consequences to patients, if complicated it could lead to meningitis, encephalitis or acute flaccid paralysis in 1% of the cases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), reports.

As of 2015,  complicated cases of the virus were present in states such as Alabama, California, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Ohio and many others.

The virus is a result of a life cycle between mosquitoes and birds who carry the virus, when a mosquito goes and feeds itself from a bird carrying the virus it would start to spread it across all of it’s bitten, victims.Mosquitoes can also infect other mammals like cats, horses, and dogs.

Since there are different types of mosquitoes carrying different viruses, authorities need to be aware of the species on their surroundings. For example, the Culex species of mosquitoes are responsible for carrying the West Nile Virus, meanwhile, the Aedes aegypti and the Aedes albopictus species carry the Chikungunya, Zika, and Dengue viruses.

West Nile Virus, in a difference to Zika, Chikungunya and Dengue, tends to have no-show symptoms on infected patients, around 20%. Many will learn they had the virus time after and never felt it effects.

Yet there are patients show signs of the virus, that include similar symptoms of the mosquito related viruses such as fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, and pains. Currently, there are no vaccines or medicines that can prevent or treat the virus, that’s why authorities focus on prevention education so much.

Fighting the virus

Depending on the weather conditions, mosquitoes are able to survive or reproduce depending on their species. The species that carry the Zika, Dengue and Chikungunya virus tend to survive in moisty and wet weathers since they are attracted to dump waters.

Yet the Culex mosquito, who carries the West Nile virus, survives on hot and dry weathers that’s why Massachusetts is currently fighting the virus.  

The state has a severe drought season right now, the weather conditions have been helping on fighting and reducing common mosquitoes numbers,yet the species that survives in this conditions is the Culex.

The state has over 51 different species of mosquitoes and the numbers have ranked down since the severe drought started and many citizens have seen the mosquitoes numbers reduce. Experts explain dehydration doesn’t let them fly around.

In Plymouth County, authorities have reported that residents call to spray mosquitoes have been reduced from 9,000 to 1,500, as reported by the Boston globe. Yet the weather is helping Culex Mosquitoes.

Standing water is very common, especially when a severe drought is happening and ponds of water are left in the backyards of citizens. That is Culex mosquitoes find the perfect environment to lay eggs and reproduce.

Several Massachusetts counties have found mosquitoes carrying the virus, although no cases in animals or in humans have been detected in 2016.

Dallas county authorities have been questioning the best ways to fight the virus, trucks with pesticides have been spraying wooded areas. Yet authorities are thinking about using planes to spray and have a larger result.

Despite fighting the virus with measures like pesticide sprays or control, authorities are emphasizing the importance of countermeasures, prevention and education.

Preventing the virus

Avoiding mosquito bites is the fist prevention action a citizen can take, that’s why authorities urge people to use mosquito repellents when going outside,  especially those with DEET for a stronger protection. Oil of lemon eucalyptus also helps a longer protection of the skin.

Dressing appropriately is another key factor, wearing long sleeves, pants and socks can protect anyone from suffering of West Nile virus, as well as,  getting informed about the most common mosquito bite hours

Having screens on the windows is also a great way of mosquito-protecting a home to avoid getting bitten.

Source: Boston Globe