Two individuals from Riverside County in California have already been confirmed to have West Nile virus as mosquito population rise.
Both patients are expected to make a full recovery, but West Nile virus can cause serious illness, and even death.
West Nile Virus Amid Mosquito Population Surges
Authorities in Riverside county have confirmed two cases of West Nile virus in two individuals, a 74-year-old female, and a 50-year-old male. Fortunately, both are expected to make a full recovery from their illness, though it is said that the disease has become increasingly prevalent in the area.
In 2017, cases of West Nile virus in the county tripled to 33 compared to the 10 cases in 2016. In total, there were 553 confirmed cases of West Nile vVirus in California, 44 of which proved fatal.
Similarly, authorities in Chicago are expecting a further surge in mosquito populations because of the record rains in May which has already caused a massive mosquito population surge, as well as the heat that’s expected to be experienced this weekend. Together, the record rains and expected heat could cause the mosquito population to increase even further.
So far, authorities have seen an increase in both West Nile virus-carrying mosquitoes as well as non-disease-carrying mosquitoes, but no cases of West Nile virus have been recorded.
As mosquito-borne diseases are expected to rise along with the mosquito populations, authorities encourage citizens to wear insect repellents and proper clothes that could prevent mosquito bites, to keep door and window screens closed to prevent mosquitoes from entering the home, and to remove any stagnant water in which mosquitoes could breed.
West Nile Virus
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cases of flea-, mosquito-, and tick-borne diseases more than tripled from 2004 until 2016. One of such diseases is West Nile virus, which is a virus that is commonly spread through mosquito bites. In many cases in North America, West Nile virus is contracted during mosquito season which often runs from summer until fall.
One in five people who get infected with West Nile virus do not experience symptoms, but about one in 150 of the infected will develop a serious, potentially fatal, illness. Some symptoms may include fever, convulsions, headache, neck stiffness, disorientation, comatose, muscle weakness, vision loss, and paralysis.
Severe illnesses resulting from the West Nile virus may affect people of any age, although people over 60 years old, those who have cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and those who have previously received organ transplants are more at risk.
So far, there is no vaccine to prevent West Nile virus, or an antiviral drug to treat it, so treatments aim to treat its symptoms, rather than the virus itself. Often, it takes several weeks or months to recover from severe illness, but some effects to the central nervous system may be permanent.