An article in the news caught my eye today when I noticed that The World Health Organization (WHO) called an emergency meeting to discuss the infectious disease known as MERS (Middle East Respiratory virus, formerly known as nCoV). ...
On Monday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report saying that, in the United States, 2012 was the deadliest year on record for deaths attributed to the West Nile virus.
Texas led the nation, compromising 33 percent of all reported cases with 1,868 infections and 89 deaths. That was far above California, which had the second most reported cases at 479 and 20 deaths.
In the majority of West Nile virus cases, most people experience only minor symptoms such as fever and a mild headache. However, some people who become infected with the virus develop a life-threatening illness that includes inflammation of the brain.
Serious symptoms can include:
- High fever
- Severe headache
- Stiff neck
- Disorientation or confusion
- Stupor or coma
- Tremors or muscle jerking
- Lack of coordination
- Partial paralysis or sudden muscle weakness
Signs and symptoms of West Nile fever usually last a few days, but signs and symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis can linger for weeks, and certain neurological effects, such as muscle weakness, may be permanent.
If you or a family member experience any of these more severe symptoms see a physician immediately.
The CDC's Dr. Lyle Petersen says it's impossible to know what West Nile will do this summer. "It is very hard to predict," he said in a telephone interview with NBC News. "I can't tell you what the weather is going to be like this summer, for example." The virus is driven by weather; it's worse during hot, wet summers in temperate climates.
"What last summer's outbreak tells us is that West Nile is not going to go away," Petersen said. "Most places in the United States are at risk of having outbreaks."
Currently, there is no vaccine against the virus for people. Most infections occur in the warmer months when mosquitoes are active.