Like many other mosquito-borne illnesses and disease, West Nile virus carries many misconceptions in regards to the symptoms, treatment and prognosis of West Nile Virus. An article published on August 8th, 2011 by the Statehouse Bureau Staff confirms the first case of West Nile to be reported this season to be right here in New Jersey. A 50-year-old man in Mercer County recently tested positive for West Nile virus according to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior services. According to the article, the man experienced joint pain, numbness in his hands, fatigue and fever last month prior to the diagnosis.
Here in the Garden state mosquitoes are so abundant that some residents refer to the mosquito as the “state bird”. All jokes aside, mosquitoes are a problem that cannot be ignored. With this recent diagnosis of the first confirmed case of West Nile ringing so close to home, the time to gain knowledge of how to prevent this mosquito-borne illness is more important than ever. It is time to separate fact from fiction when it comes to this serious illness.
One common misconception is many people believe that the wetlands, which are found throughout New Jersey and are a major part of the region’s ecosystems, are the main culprit for the mosquito that carries the West Nile virus. This is false. Healthy wetlands don’t always provide the ideal habitat for mosquitoes because the water conditions, water quality, and the presence of the mosquito’s natural predators may keep mosquitoes from using the water found in many wetlands to lay their eggs. Many believe that by draining our wetlands we can eliminate mosquitoes, and thus, cut back the number of mosquitoes left with the ability to spread illnesses such as West Nile virus. This is also false. By draining the wetland,s mosquito numbers could possibly increase by destroying the mosquitoes natural predators such as birds, fish and other insects that eat mosquitoes. In essence draining the wetlands would hinder the reduction of mosquitoes rather than help decrease their populations.
Another falsehood is the assumption that since there is no vaccine for West Nile Virus we can do nothing about it. This is far from the actual truth. The fact is, there are many effective and no-nonsense ways to prevent West Nile Virus. There are many things you can do to reduce the risk of contracting the illness. Simple safeguards that seem so trivial compared to the potential outcome are the first lines of defense. The first safeguard is to gain control over your property. Keep your property clean, trimmed, and free of debris, brush piles and standing water. Mosquitoes can lay eggs in even the smallest reservoir of standing water. A soda bottle top can become a nursery to 100’s of mosquito larvae. Keeping you gutters clean and free of debris and making sure window and door screening are intact and free of rips and tears where mosquitoes could lurk in is crucial. Having your property treated by a licensed professional is also an excellent way to prevent coming face-to-face with mosquitoes that could potentially be carrying West Nile Virus.
Most reported cases of West Nile Virus are among older adults, debunking the myth that the most likely candidates to become infected are children. Adults, and especially those over 50, are at a greater risk of contracting the illness because their immune systems are unable to fight off the illness. In reality, very few cases of West Nile Virus have been reported among children.
As is the case with any mosquito-borne illness, early detection and diagnosis is the key to a trouble-free and speedy recovery from the illness at any age. Being able to identify the symptoms just takes familiarization. Symptoms of West Nile Virus can include fever, chills, headaches and body aches and are usually accompanied by swollen lymph nodes and a skin rash. These symptom can be seen as early as 2 days following the onset of the illness. As the illness progresses, symptoms can include neck stiffness, a high fever, sever headache and disorientation. If West Nile Virus is left untreated it can lead to coma, tremors, convulsions, and the onset of West Nile Encephalitis or Meningitis which affects the brain and nervous system. Even though early symptoms of West Nile Virus closely mimic those of the flu, any change in your body or displaying any of these symptoms should not be taken lightly. Always contact your doctor immediately at any sign of illness. Remember that symptoms such as these are your body’s way of telling you something is wrong, and should never be ignored. Early diagnosis in West Nile patients can mean the difference in a light case of the illness which is easily treatable, or the illness becoming life threatening.
One fact that is certain is that knowledge and prevention of the mosquito is our only defense against West Nile Virus. Mosquito Squad of Mt. Laurel can help you in preventing mosquitoes on your property with our safe and effective barrier sprays as well as our automatic mosquito misting systems. Our barrier spray is applied at schedule intervals throughout the season to kill and prevent mosquitoes from entering your treated property. These scheduled applications ensure season-long protection. Our automatic mosquito misting systems offer the ultimate in mosquito protection with timed applications throughout the day to kill and prevent mosquitoes. Contact Mosquito Squad of Mt. Laurel to learn more and help you take control of your property this season. Call us at (856) 300-6146!