Serious Summertime Bites

West nile virus counts near 300 across the US this summer

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) In certain parts of the country, having mosquitos around is just a part of summer. Unfortunately, that means that West Nile virus might be a part of summer too.

Counts of West Nile infections are now nearing 300 across the US this year, and cases have been reported in 43 states and the District of Columbia (DC). 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are urging people to take steps to prevent mosquito bites.

"Empty standing water from around the home."

West Nile virus is spread through mosquito bites. According to CDC, around 70 to 80 percent of people who become infected do not experience any symptoms.

About one in five people experience flu-like symptoms including fever, headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or a rash. In these cases, fatigue and weakness can sometimes linger for weeks or months.

Though most people who become infected with West Nile virus experience no symptoms or fairly mild symptoms, the virus can in some cases cause severe reactions. According to CDC, less than 1 percent of people infected with West Nile will develop neuroinvasive disease. In these cases, swelling or inflammation of the brain can occur, sometimes resulting in death. 

The latest CDC counts show a total of 296 reported cases of West Nile virus across the US so far during 2013.

California has seen the most cases, with 59 infections reported. South Dakota has reported 52 cases, Colorado has reported 36, Minnesota has reported 24 and North Dakota has reported 23.

Of the 296 cases seen so far, 145 (49 percent) have been cases of neuroinvasive disease and 151 (51 percent) have been non-neuroinvasive. Eleven deaths have occurred. 

California has experienced the greatest number of deaths, with four occurring in that state. 

CDC noted that the symptoms of neuroinvasive issues can include headache, high fever, stiffness in the neck, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures and paralysis. People with certain conditions, like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and kidney disease, have a higher risk of developing serious illness after becoming infected with West Nile.

"The most effective way to avoid West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites," CDC says. "Be aware of the West Nile virus activity in your area and take action to protect yourself and your family."

CDC suggested a variety of steps to help prevent mosquito bites, including using insect repellent, wearing long sleeves or pants when possible, repairing screens on doors and windows and regularly emptying standing water from around the home. 

Review Date: 
August 26, 2013
Last Updated:
August 27, 2013