Although the risk of becoming sick or developing West Nile virus symptoms is low, here’s what you need to know.
The Louisville Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness announced Monday, Aug. 12, that mosquitoes found in one ZIP code of Jefferson County, Kentucky, are carrying West Nile virus. The affected ZIP code is 40215, which covers portions of Louisville’s Jacobs, Wyandotte, Hazelwood and Beechmont neighborhoods.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), West Nile virus is most commonly transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. Although the risk of becoming sick or developing West Nile virus symptoms is low, here’s what you need to know:
- Up to 80% of people infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms.
- About 1 in 5 infected people will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pain, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus recover, however fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months.
- Less than 1% of people infected with West Nile virus will develop a serious neurological illness, such as encephalitis or meningitis — an inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissue. Symptoms can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures or paralysis.
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There is no specific West Nile virus treatment or vaccine. Many physicians will recommend over-the-counter pain relievers to reduce fever and help with some symptoms. In extreme cases, hospitalization may be necessary.
Health experts and local officials recommend mosquito bite prevention as a frontline defense. Here’s what you can do:
- When outdoors, use insect repellent containing DEET or another insecticide, and wear protective clothing.
- Install or repair window and door screens.
- Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if possible.
- Remove standing water from around your home in areas such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, pet water dishes, discarded tires and birdbaths.
West Nile virus is just one of the many viruses, including Zika, carried by mosquitoes.