Adults aged 50 and older have an increased risk for experiencing the most dangerous symptoms of West Nile Virus, which can include: paralysis, high fever, convulsions, vision loss, and coma. These individuals are also more susceptible to developing other complications from the disease, such as meningitis and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
West Nile is spread via a bite from an infected mosquito. A person typically starts developing symptoms of the disease anytime between 3 and 14 days after being bitten. Symptoms can range in severity from a mild headache to paralysis.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about one in every 150 bitten by a mosquito with West Nile will contract the most severe version of the disease. Most people (about 80 percent of those bitten) will not experience any symptoms, while some may experience mild symptoms such as, head and body aches, and nausea.
There's no cure or particular medication designed to combat West Nile, but people who experience mild symptoms usually get better on their own in a few weeks.
The CDC advises people to prepare—not panic—when it comes to West Nile.
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Mosquitoes—the source of the disease—are cold-blooded insects that do not function well when outside temperatures fall to 50 degrees or below. In most areas, mosquitos are only active during the spring and summer months. Only people who live in tropical climates should be on the lookout for these pesky pests year-round.
The CDC offers some simple steps to help you and your loved one ward off mosquitos:
- When going outside, apply insect repellant with an EPA-registered active ingredient (DEET, Picaridin, PMD or IR3535) in it and be sure to wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts.
- Avoid going out at dawn or dusk, because this is when mosquitos most like to feed
- Get rid of sources of standing water (bird baths, inflatable pools, etc.) that serve as optimal breeding grounds for mosquitos.