For the first time this year, the West Nile Virus has reared its ugly face. Metropolitan Mosquito Control District claims that the mosquitoes collected last week in the metro area of the Twin Cities, in Scott County tested positive for the virus. Although there have been no confirmed human cases yet, officials advise caution. The Star Tribune reported that nobody fell ill until now, and that the birds tested for the virus turned up negative. However, the first signs of the West Nile Virus were found around the same time last year, in Carver County. By late August, 21 individuals fell sick and one died.
This virus first made its appearance in Minnesota approximately 12 years ago. Since then it has claimed hundreds of victims. The most confirmed cases was in 2007, when 116 residents were confirmed. In 2012 a staggering 103 victims was confirmed.
Although it usually affects agriculture areas (western and central Minnesota), the Virus can emerge anywhere (last year the Virus was confirmed in 16 counties by the Minnesota Health Department). It should not come as a surprise that the tests came positive on the mosquitoes. It is prime time for the virus to develop. Scientists advise extreme caution during this period. Residents of Scott County should use mosquito repellent at all time, especially during dusk and dawn, and avoid places with stagnant water.
The fact that temperatures will raise starting next week is another reason for concern. This season has been extremely wet, and this could lead to more mosquitoes that can spread the virus to birds and humans, officials say.
According to statistics, one out of 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito develop central nervous system problems such as meningitis, brain infection or encephalitis. These are serious problems. Statistics also show that approximately 10% of the severely ill die from their disease, and even if they survive they are left with serious nervous system problems.
The happy cases do not result in serious health issues. According to the Minnesota Health Department, most people who are bitten by infected mosquitoes only develop a mild form of West Nile fever. This is the less severe form of the disease. In some situations people fight of the problem without the flu-like symptoms.
All in all, the Mosquito Control District urges residents to report dead birds and strange health issues which may be connected to the West Nile Virus (dead birds can be reported here: http://tinyurl.com/kk6myy).
How to Cut the Risk of West Nile Virus Infection
Prevention is the best cure. In order to reduce the risk of contracting the Virus, Metropolitan Distric officials recommend the following measures:
– wearing loose, light-colored clothes with long sleeves, especially at dusk and dawn.
– emptying water-holding containers in the yard to avoid attracting mosquitoes.
– using mosquito repellent as often as possible
– staying in the house when mosquitoes are most active (at dusk and dawn)
– making sure that window screens are correctly installed in windows.