Guest blog by Brad King
I just wanted to let everyone know that the Norwood City Health Department has just been informed by the State Health Department that we have our first case of West Nile Virus in the City of Norwood.
West Nile Virus (WNV) is a viral disease affecting the central nervous system that can be transmitted to humans by mosquitoes. It is important to note that most people who are bitten by an infected mosquito will never become sick. Everyone, however, should be aware of the symptoms of WNV. Symptoms may develop 2-15 days after someone is bitten by an infected mosquito.
No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will display symptoms which can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have been sick for several weeks.
Serious Symptoms in a Few People. It is estimated that approximately one in 150 (fewer than 1 percent) persons infected with West Nile Virus will develop a more severe form of disease. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks and neurological effects may be permanent.
The Norwood City Health Department recommends that residents follow the plan of DRAIN, DUNK, and PROTECT to reduce the mosquito population and prevent mosquito bites:
• Look for and drain sources of standing water on your property – litter, tires, buckets, flower pots, wading pools and similar items that could create standing water and become mosquito breeding sites.
• Frequently change water in bird baths and pet bowls.
• Drain small puddles after heavy rainstorms.
• Apply mosquito larvicide, sometimes called mosquito “dunks,” to areas of standing water that cannot be drained. The “dunks” are environmentally safe and won’t harm pets. You can purchase them at your local hardware store.
• Cut your grass and trim shrubbery.
• Make sure screens in windows and doors are tight-fitting and free from defects.
• Wear long sleeves and pants during peak mosquito hours – dawn and dusk.
• Use an EPA-registered insect repellent such as those containing DEET, picaridin or oil of lemon eucalyptus. Always follow the directions on the package.
Staff from the Health Department have been out in the community advising people of the plan to help prevent the spread of the disease.
Brad King, M.P.H., R.S.
Norwood City Health Department