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West Nile Virus in El Paso

West Nile Virus in El Paso
Things you must know

By Dr. Héctor López

Although summer is over and fall season is starting, it is important to note that mosquitoes will be around our area for a while.
October should not catch you off guard, especially when you have children and older adults living in your household.

Mosquitoes can bear the infamous West Nile Virus disease as well as other health threats such as the Zika Virus. Thus, it is of paramount importance to be alert and to take preventive action to avoid extra health problems due to mosquitoes roaming around or in your house.

The most effective way to avoid the West Nile virus disease is to prevent mosquito bites. In order to do so, you must use insect repellents when you go outdoors. Be sure to wear long sleeves and pants from dusk through dawn because it is during this time span when many mosquitoes are most active. Install or repair screens on windows and doors to avoid mosquitoes from getting into the house. Finally, help reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by eliminating stagnant water in spaces you don’t often check such as the backyard, garage corners, gardens, etc.

You must know that no vaccine or specific antiviral treatments are available for West Nile virus infection. In severe cases, patients will need to be hospitalized in order to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.

If you have West Nile virus, you will typically show the first symptoms within 3 to 14 days of being bitten by a mosquito.

In most cases, the West Nile virus infection can cause a mild flu-like illness or may cause no symptoms at all. In some cases, particularly among the elderly, it can cause serious neurological diseases like encephalitis or meningitis, thus the importance of seeking medical attention. Older adults and children should be seen by a doctor as soon as possible if any fever, flu, stiffness or recurrent headache symptoms appear.
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