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West Nile Virus Death Toll Climbing October 11, 2012

Posted by acroanmph in Public Health.
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West Nile Virus, mosquito, encephalitis, horse health, public health

CDC expects more West Nile Virus deaths this fall

The number of humans with West Nile Virus climbed 40% this week, bringing the total to 4,249 cases and 168 deaths. All contiguous states have reported cases and are on alert to take preventive measures as the CDC warns that more deaths are expected.

West Nile Virus comes to us through infected birds via mosquitos and is worst during summer months, tapering off in fall. A small number of dogs and cats have been infected, and some hundreds of horses. Many horse owners have opted for the equine vaccine, however, no vaccine exists for humans. There have been no cases of horses transmitting the virus to other horses or to humans. The only human transmission of the disease was transplacental, reported in 2002, and one case of transference through breast milk.

Symptoms and Risk Factors

Symptoms appear between 3 and 14 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Approximately 80% of infected people will show no symptoms. About 20% present with fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, swollen lymph glands and occasionally a skin rash on chest, stomach and back. One in 150 infected will develop severe neuroinvasive disease such as West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis, West Nile meningoencephalitis and West Nile poliomyelitis, and require hospitalization. However, to date 53% of reported cases have been classified as neuroinvasive. Symptoms of severe disease can include high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions and paralysis. In all cases the symptoms may last several days or several weeks.

Residents of any area where virus activity has been identified are at risk. People over age 50 are of highest risk.

Prevention

  • Mosquitos breed and lay their eggs in shallow, standing water. Several times per week empty water from pet dishes, birdbaths, buckets and cans. Clean out any clogged rain gutters. Drill holes in tire swings to allow water to drain.
  • Communities and cities may use vector management programs to reduce mosquito populations.
  • Try to remain indoors during dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. Wear protective clothing and then spray the clothing with an insect repellant containing DEET.
  • Ensure all doors and windows are screened, and consider using mosquito netting around cribs and children’s beds in areas with highest rates of West Nile Virus.

Do not handle dead birds. Contact your local health department to dispose of the body.

Related Reading

West Nile Virus, Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Human West Nile Virus Map

“I Knew My Husband Was Going To Go,” West Nile widow says.

Central woman survives West Nile Virus (wafb.com)

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HIV: Reaching Global Goals? December 1, 2011

Posted by acroanmph in Global Health, Public Health.
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World AIDS Day, HIV goalsThirty years of an infectious pandemic, drug research, public health education, and counseling have brought us to the point where we boldly announce the goal of an HIV-free generation in the next three years. This may seem attainable as HIV is a preventable disease. Personal behavior changes will determine the rate of infection. Assuming we will curb behaviors of all people who engage in IV drug use and unprotected sex, especially at a time when economies are struggling, is delusional.

Greece’s troubled economy has seen new infections rise by 52% in 2011, and that rate is expected to increase to 60% by the end of the year. (The US rate of increase is about 7%.) The rate of injected drug use is increasing because people can no longer afford other methods, and there have been heavy cuts to prevention in the form of free needles. The World Health Organization recommends 200 per year per user and Greece is handing out only three. Mobile testing units which frequently hit areas of high prostitution and drug use have ceased, in lieu of free-standing facilities in “posh neighborhoods,” out of reach of those who need them most. Drug therapy is becoming more unattainable, and according to Reuters and the National School of Public Health,

Antiretroviral drugs cost Greece at least 1,000 euros per patient a month. For the state to pay for all those people would cost just over 130 million euros a year. According to Christianna Rizopoulos, who collects data at the Hellenic Center’s HIV office, there is talk among health professionals that the government plans to cut its contribution for drugs to 600 euros per treatment per month, so patients would have to foot almost half the bill.

And this at a time when unemployment is up, hovering around 20%.

Outlooks for the US economy project at least a decade, maybe two, for recovery. Currently, there are over 250,000 Americans unknowingly carrying the virus. Fear of stigma prevents many from being tested, even though access to care is fairly good. Hillary Clinton’s hope of zero new infections by combining prevention techniques may work on paper, but realistically it’s a pipe dream until economies stabilize.

The government is not going to stop new infections. YOU are. David Scondras, CEO and Founder of Search For A Cure/HIV Treatment Advocacy, explains how you can protect yourself:

For confidential testing, find a site near you by entering your zip code. Pass it on.

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