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The West Nile Virus

Updated on October 2, 2014

Protection from Mosquitoes Is a Must

West Nile Virus is on the rise in the United States. Learn the mild and severe symptoms of the mosquito disease and many West Nile Virus Facts. Protection against mosquito bites must be a priority, even if you are not prone to get them.

Some People Attract Mosquitoes

I am one of those people who could step out into the middle of a winter day and be bitten by a mosquito. It does not matter if I wear perfume or hair spray or lotion, mosquitos love me.

My husband, on the other hand, seems to never get a bite. Even if I am standing next to him, they swarm me and don't go near him. Not sure what that means about him.

Mosquito bites are irritatingly itchy, swollen, and red. You might find yourself feeling them itch for a few days. Try not to scratch them.

As irritating as they are, most of us can deal with the itch. The dangerous side effect of a mosquito bite is contracting West Nile Virus, causing flu-like illness and even death.

It seems the West Nile Virus is on the rise in the United States.

CBS News reported that as of September 18, 2012, "the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)[...] announced there have been a total of 3,142 cases of the virus reported with 134 deaths[...] Of those, 1,630 were classified as neuroinvasive disease, with neurologic or brain-related complications such as meningitis or encephalitis, and 1,512 were classified as non-neuroinvasive."

These are scary statistics that should make all of us consider how to take care of ourselves and prevent getting this disease which can range from no symptoms at all to death.

The West Nile Virus Cycle
The West Nile Virus Cycle

How Does West Nile Spread?

West Nile Virus spreads by mosquitoes feeding on live or dead infected birds then biting humans and animals. If you find a dead bird, do not touch it with your bare hands. Use a shovel or gloves to dispose of it. If you have small children, be sure you do not allow them to touch a dead bird. The Center of Disease Control recommends you to call your local health department. If you do so, you are giving your area health department a heads up in case WNV breaks out. They can then pass on preventative measures.

In extremely rare cases, WNV can spread through transfusions, transplants, and breastfeeding. Most medical screening procedures catch the virus before it can be passed on to a recipient. If you are due to have one of these procedures or are a breastfeeding mother who has been bitten by a mosquito, check with your doctor.

West Nile Virus is not spread through person to person contact and is not contagious. It is not an airborne disease.

Avon Skin-So-Soft

Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535® Insect Repellent Moisturizing Lotion - SPF 30 Gentle Breeze, 4 oz
Avon SKIN-SO-SOFT Bug Guard PLUS IR3535® Insect Repellent Moisturizing Lotion - SPF 30 Gentle Breeze, 4 oz

Mosquitoes love me. During the summer I do not wear anything with a fragrance, which means no lotion. After showering, I use Avon's Skin-So-Soft. It is known for helping those of us who are swarmed by mosquitoes. The Skin-So-Soft does help ward them off.


How Long Does It Take for West Nile Virus Symptoms to Show Up?

People who are susceptible and have been bitten by an infected mosquito will typically start experiencing symptoms within 3 – 14 days.

Be aware that nearly 80 percent of people will not show any symptoms at all. The 20 percent who do show symptoms need to rest. If the symptoms become more serious, a doctor should be consulted.

What are the Symptoms of West Nile Virus?

As stated earlier, most people will not experience symptoms. Since WNV does seem to be on the rise, though, people should be alerted to the connection between a mosquito bite – the most common form of spreading the disease – and symptoms.

Mild symptoms include:




Nausea and/or vomiting

Swollen Lymph Glands

Skin Rash on Stomach, Chest, and/or Back

Mild cases of WNV will normally pass, but they can last weeks and even months. There is no known cure.

Severe symptoms include the mild symptoms, plus:

High Fever


Neck Stiffness



Muscle Weakness

Vision Loss


These symptoms can also last for months and could possibly lead to neurological damage that could be permanent. A doctor should be consulted immediately. Hospitalization is likely in order to receive intravenous fluids, help with breathing, and nursing care. Statistically 1 in 150 people who are susceptible to WNV can develop these severe symptoms.

The main source of West Nile Virus is standing water: a breeding ground for mosquitoes
The main source of West Nile Virus is standing water: a breeding ground for mosquitoes | Source

How to Prevent West Nile Virus

The best course of action is to try to prevent West Nile Virus.

Stay indoors while mosquitoes are most active, which is dawn and dusk.

If you are outdoors, wear insect repellent, long sleeves, and pants.

If you have your windows opened, be sure all holes in screens are patched.

While the height of mosquito season is summer and fall, try to avoid wearing perfume, hair spray, scented lotions and scented deodorants because the scents attract mosquitoes.

Get rid of standing water. Change your outdoor pet’s water daily. Change water in bird baths weekly. Get rid of any standing water in your flower pots. Bring in shoes or clothing that are soaked in water. Make sure all your child’s toys and swing set equipment are dry. Just as anything scented attracts mosquitoes, any type of standing water attracts them and becomes their breeding grounds.

Personal Account of West Nile Virus

In 2000 I visited my brother in New York City. I noticed the shop owners were sweeping the water on the sidewalks, and I commented to my brother, “Why don’t they just let it dry?”

My brother proceeded to tell me there was a law in New York City that there be no standing water on the sidewalks and sweeping the water after it rained or a shop owner had cleaned his store front sidewalk spreads the water out and made it dry quicker. I did notice they were mostly doing this in the middle of the day.

The year before, in 1999, there had been a large outbreak of the West Nile Virus, which caused the law to be more strictly enforced.

My brother then told me that when I had been there on vacation the year before (1999) that he had walked around with a low grade fever and body aches. He did not say a word to me. He said he had had the symptoms from June through September. Life couldn’t just stop for him – thankfully, he fell into the mild symptom category, so he sucked it up and went about his day as he normally would though he did move slower and took more time to rest. That is except when I was there. We run like our hair is on fire trying to fit in as much as possible.

By the time he told me, it was a year after the fact. The point is that he had recognized it as the flu in the beginning but after going to the doctor, found he had West Nile Virus. There was nothing to be done for it.

Wear Mosquito Repellent
Wear Mosquito Repellent

Treatments for West Nile Virus

Unfortunately, there are no treatments that can cure WNV. If you think you are experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms; try to rest, drink lots of water, and set your mind to face your day until the symptoms pass. Go to the doctor and get advice. If symptoms become severe, go to the hospital. There may not be a cure, but there are ways to make you more comfortable.

The number of West Nile Virus cases have risen since this news report aired.

Are you protecting yourself from mosquitoes?

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    Post Comment
    • norma-holt profile image


      5 years ago

      Mosquitoes are a curse around my place but there is nothing for them to breed in if I can help it. This is a great article and good advice. Well done.

    • susanholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      @balancebydesign4u: I am a bit surprised I haven't gotten anything that is mosquito born either. I hope we never do!! Thanks so much for dropping by!! :-)

    • balancebydesign4u profile image


      6 years ago from Arkansas

      I am like you-if there is one mosquito within 10 miles it will find and bite me! My husband never gets bit. I'm surprised I haven't had West Nile or other mosquito born illnesses. Thanks for the info.

    • susanholland10 profile imageAUTHOR

      Susan Holland 

      6 years ago from Southwest Missouri

      @DrBillSmithWriter: Thank you for the SquidLike and for dropping by to read my lens. I am glad you thought it was interesting. :-)

    • DrBillSmithWriter profile image

      William Leverne Smith 

      6 years ago from Hollister, MO

      What fun - being the first to SquidLike a new, interesting lens! Neat! ;-)


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