Protect Yourself From West Nile Virus

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Protect Yourself From West Nile Virus

Marci Drees, M.D., MS
Marci Drees, M.D., MS

The recent West Nile Virus outbreak represents the highest number of cases ever recorded to date since 1999, the year the disease was first detected in the United States.

West Nile Virus continues to be active in the Delaware region with multiple confirmed cases here and in surrounding states.

While most people infected by the West Nile Virus experience mild symptoms or none at all, a few can experience severe symptoms that can lead to death.

Marci Drees, M.D., Christiana Care’s hospital epidemiologist and infection prevention officer, is reminding people that there are steps they can do to avoid West Nile Virus.

“You can take some mosquito-conscious steps to protect yourself from West Nile Virus,” Dr. Drees said. “If you are going outside and are going to be heavily exposed to mosquitoes, you should consider applying an insect repellent with DEET or another EPA-registered active ingredient. You should also strongly consider wearing long sleeves and pants.”

Drees said that people should get rid of any standing water, as mosquitoes can breed anywhere where water accumulates. People also should seek medical help if they experience severe headaches, confusion or disorientation. About one in 150 people infected with the West Nile Virus will develop a severe illness, which can include paralysis, coma or death.

“There is no FDA-approved treatment for West Nile Virus but we can monitor patients with severe illnesses and immediately respond to help them if their situation gets worse,” Dr. Drees said.

For more information on the West Nile Virus, visit the CDC’s web page.