Take Caution with West Nile

Take Caution with West Nile

Photo by Aussiegal off Flickr

Story by Davis Payne, Entertainment Editor

It seems that every few years there’s some type of epidemic in the United States that turns people into hypochondriacs, or people who have unreasonable fears of serious illness.In 2006, we had the E. Coli outbreak. In 2009, it was the Swine Flu, and now in 2012, we have an increase in West Nile Virus infections. With the news channels reporting the amount of deaths caused by the virus every other day, one can certainly see why an everyday person would be afraid, but there is definitely some things that need to be cleared up about the

Mosquitos: The West Nile Virus is not an airborne or waterborne disease, it is spread by mosquitos. Now to most of the people who live in the United States, especially those in the South, this isn’t much of a comfort. It also sounds worse that there are approximately 150 species of mosquito in the U.S. currently. Now here is the relief, only 64 of that 150 are able to carry West Nile Virus. This means that you have a less than 50 percent chance of the mosquito even being able to carry the virus.

Forms: What a lot of people do not know is that the West Nile Virus actually comes in three main forms. If you had 141 people and they were all somehow infected with the virus, 110 of them would never even know that they had it. That is 78 percent of infected will never show symptoms.

Out of the 31 people left, 30 will experience symptoms that are like the Flu. They will be sick for roughly a week and then make a full recovery. This brings the percent total of infected without serious symptoms to 99.3 percent.

Now the third form, the 1 out of 141, the 0.7 percent, that is the form that is dangerous. That 0.7 percent will get the form that causes meningioencephalitis, which basically means that your brain is on fire and swelling. Patients who receive this strain have to undergo intensive care.
West Nile fact sheet

Who is that unlucky?: If you know even the basic principles of math, you must realize that the chance of getting infected with the third form is astronomically small.  You would have to have some of the worst luck. Yet, we still hear about people being that one in a million at the most inconvenient timing, so we need to ask who is likely to be that one? The answer is mainly the old and the very young. Studies show that infants and the elderly have weak immune systems.

Still, be cautious: What it all comes down to is that most people are overreacting. The human race is famous for it, we love to do it, and we will certainly do it in the future.
With that being said, I would recommend that you apply bug spray especially in the evening or near a pool of water. There is no harm in being a little safer.

For more info on West Nile go to: West Nile Virus