We are all aware of the presence of West Nile Virus in our nation. The following information is being provided to help you understand this illness and learn what you can do to protect yourself and your family. Risk to individuals on a daily basis is low. By using the following tips you can further reduce the risk that you and your family will be exposed to the West Nile Virus. West Nile Virus is an infection caused by a virus that mosquitos carry. The virus spreads to humans when they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
It cannot be spread from human to human or from animals to humans. Symptoms begin from five to fifteen days after exposure. Mild cases result in a slight fever and / or a headache. Severe infections are marked by a sudden onset of a high fever with a headache, general body aches, confusion, shaking, seizures, and in the most severe cases, paralysis or death. Less than one percent of people with West Nile Virus develop severe illness. People at the highest risk for severe illness are those over the age of fifty.
Healthy children and adults are at a low risk for severe illness. Not all mosquitos transmit the West Nile Virus. If you are bitten by a mosquito, you will not automatically be infected with West Nile Virus. Mosquitos are most active between dusk and dawn.
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However, some mosquitos will feed at any time of the day. Also, 110 species of birds are known to carry West Nile Virus. The most common ones in our area are crows and jays. West Nile Virus can infect domestic animals including pet birds, dogs, cats, rabbits, and horses. However, your pet cannot give you the West Nile Virus. You must be infected by an infected mosquito in order to be diagnosed with the West Nile Virus.
Resources for this document include the Centers for Disease Control, the New York State Department of Public Health, and the Alabama Department of Public Health.