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CDC Expert Gets West Nile- “It Will Ruin Your Summer.”

Posted by Jane Akre
Monday, June 23, 2008 11:04 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Insecticides, FDA and Prescription Drugs, Toxic Substances, Mosquito-borne illness, West Nile Virus

Mosquitos carry West Nile virus, One CDC expert describes his bite.



IMAGE SOURCE:  Wikimedia Commons/ mosquito/ author: James Gathany, CDC


Lyle Petersen works for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, but lives in Fort Collins, Colorado.  He was walking down his driveway, chatted with a neighbor, got his mail and returned to his home.

Half way through his run that day he felt terrible and had to lie down with a severe headache, eye, and muscle pain, and a fever which kept him in bed for a week. He felt sick for a couple of months.

For most people, this event, might have gone unnamed. But Peterson is the director of the division of vector borne diseases at the CDC.  He tested his own blood confirmed West Nile virus.

“This is not a mild illness, and people should try to avoid it” he tells CNN.

1.5 million people have contracted West Nile infections with 2,630 cases confirmed last year. Experts say be on alert for another epidemic of the disease this summer. The peak for cases is reached mid-July and mid-September.

Emerging in the U.S. nine years ago in New York, the virus is spread by the bite of a mosquito. That partially explains the mosquito eradication programs wherever water pools. 

Petersen warns that prevention is the key. He and the CDC suggest wearing a mosquito repellent especially around dawn and dusk when mosquitoes do the most biting.  A bug spray with 50 percent DEET works well, Petersen says.

DEET has been linked to seizures in children, according to the EPA. Spraying clothing is another option. A spray that contains permethrin repels bugs.

A more natural option is lemon eucalyptus CQ. 

Broken screens should be repaired and any standing water should be eliminated, including water around flower pots and bird baths.

Consumers are also asked to report any dead birds such as crows, magpies, ravens jays and raptors, which usually die after being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Some people have no symptoms from a bite, while others can have a severe to mild reaction that may include fever, headache, chills, weakness, fatigue and drowsiness.  About 80 percent of people will have no symptoms.

There is no vaccine available to fight the West Nile infection.  A severe case can turn to meningitis or encephalitis.

Since 1999 when West Nile was first identified, it has spread to every state. So far this year there have been eight human cases confirmed in five states - Arizona, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas, according to the CDC.

West Nile virus is not spread through casual contact with another person. #

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