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Radio Shows | West Nile Virus (contributing author - David Beasley, Ph.D.; UTMB) | mp3wmawav

Today, we're reminding you to keep avoiding those pesky mosquitoes.

Most Americans only worry about mosquitoes in the summer. unless you're in the south which happens to be where we are: Galveston, Texas.

Here mosquitoes live eight months out of the year. That may be why we're so aware of the threat of West Nile virus.

Last year, West Nile made more than four thousand Americans sick and killed nearly 150.

Few of us had ever heard of West Nile until 1999 when it first appeared in the US in New York City. That summer, birds started dying at the Bronx zoo and Flushing Hospital reported patients with encephalitis. Medical experts eventually linked the cases to the arrival of the virus in North America.

West Nile virus had been known since the 1930's, but it was primarily found in Africa and the Middle East. It became a significant threat to humans in the late 1990's when people in Eastern Europe started dying.

The virus is maintained in nature. Mosquitoes transmit the virus from birds to people and animals. Following the first summer, scientists wondered if the virus could survive winter since mosquito populations generally disappear. But in 2000, it was obvious the virus survived and eventually spreading from New York City to all 48 contiguous states, Canada, and Mexico.

Most people either aren't affected by the virus or develop very minor flu-like symptoms. A small group - about one in 150 develop severe neurological disease. Ten percent of those die or live with long term complications.

The virus kills mostly the elderly and immune compromised but it can happen to anyone. So, either run fast or cover up and keep your bug spray on hand!

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For more information...

The Centers for Disease Control, the CDC, has extensive information about West Nile Virus how to avoid being bitten by the mosquitoes that carry this disease virus. There is also information about the symptoms and treatment should you be infected. This is an excellent source of accurate and up to date information.
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MedlinePlus brings together authoritative information from NLM, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations. Preformulated MEDLINE searches are included in MedlinePlus and give easy access to medical journal articles. MedlinePlus also has extensive information about drugs, an illustrated medical encyclopedia, interactive patient tutorials, and latest health news. Medline has a comprehensive section about Wet Nile Virus, prevention, screening and treatment options.
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Similarly the US Food and Drug Administration also has a web page that covers similar issues as the two previously highlighted web sites. IHowever, it also includes information about protecting your pets from mosquito-borne diseases and safety information of blood and blood products.
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