Advice by Proxim - Ralph Mokbel

West Nile Virus

Considering the hieghtened concern of West Nile Virus(WNV), I’ve decided to focus this month article on that subject.

First of all, the WNV wast identified in 1937 when isolated in the blood of a patient from the West Nile province in Ouganda. In America, it was first observed at the end of summer 1999 in the metropolitan area of New York city. Finally, the first case reported in Canada was during summer 2001 but only a few human cases was diagnosed in 2002.

The WNV is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito (the virus is found in their salivary glands). Altough several bird species can be infected (crows, sparrows, exotic birds), humans and animals are considered accidental hosts. To this day, there is no evidence that the WNV can be transmitted from person to person.

The WNV is in the same class as the virus that causes Japanese encephalitis. Therefore, the symptoms, which appear after a 5-15 days incubation period, are pretty much the same: Sudden fever (3-5 days of duration) sometimes associated with severe headaches, skin rash(trunk), swollen lymph glands and muscle pain or weakness (especially neck stiffness). It is estimated that 20% of those infected will develop mild flu-like symptoms for 3-6 days and only 1% (mostly elderly patients) will developp a severe form of the illness (encephalitis or meningitis) At this point, the fatality rate ranges from 5% to 15%. To be diagnosed, a specific blood test is done with two samples drawn 14-21 days apart.

Finally, even though WNV infection has no specific treatment or vaccine, it can still be prevented. Fortunately, many things can be said regarding the pharmacological options (mosquito repellents) and non-pharmacological choices. Therefore, I invite you and your family to come and personnally consult me on what product or tips would be best to allow you to rest comfortably this summer and enjoy the beautiful weather!



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