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Russia warns of West Nile Virus: All you need to know

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Google Oneindia News

New Delhi, Aug 30: Russia has warned about the possibility of a rise in West Nile Virus (WNV) infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation create favourable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.

Representational Image

"In light of favourable climatic conditions this year - an abundance of precipitation... a warm and long autumn, a high number of (virus) carriers could be observed in the autumn," Rospotrebnadzor, Russia's consumer health watchdog, said.

More than 80% of West Nile fever cases in Russia are registered in the country's southwest.

What is West Nile virus?

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDS), West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the continental United States. It is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. Cases of WNV occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall. There are no vaccines to prevent or medications to treat WNV in people.

Transmission

West Nile virus is most commonly spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes then spread West Nile virus to people and other animals by biting them.

In a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has been spread through:

  • Exposure in a laboratory setting
  • Blood transfusion and organ transplant
  • Mother to baby, during pregnancy, delivery, or breast feeding

West Nile virus is not spread:

  • Through coughing, sneezing, or touching
  • By touching live animals
  • From handling live or dead infected birds. Avoid bare-handed contact when handling any dead animal.
  • If you are disposing of a dead bird, use gloves or double plastic bags to place the carcass in a garbage can.
  • Through eating infected animals, including birds. Always follow instructions for fully cooking meat.

Symptoms

No symptoms in most people. Most people (8 out of 10) infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. About 1 in 5 people who are infected develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash.

Severe illness can occur in people of any age; however, people over 60 years of age are at greater risk for severe illness if they are infected (1 in 50 people). People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk.

Tips for everyone

Always follow the product label instructions.

Reapply insect repellent as directed.

Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.

If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen first and insect repellent second.

Treatment and vaccine

Treatment is supportive for patients with neuro-invasive West Nile virus, often involving hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections. No vaccine is available for humans.

Prevention

Natural insect repellents (repellents not registered with EPA)

Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants

Take steps to control mosquitoes indoors and outdoors

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