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West Nile Virus Information Center


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"Our Toxic World"

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Home Toxins
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  Doris J. Rapp, M.D. Board Certified in: Pediatrics, Allergy and Environmental Medicine
Former Clinical Assistant Prof. Pediatrics at SUNYAB August 24, 200

Are You Sick from West Nile Virus or The Chemical Sprays?
What Should You Look For and Do, Both Medically and Legally?


Who is most apt to develop this illness?

The very young or very elderly or those with weakened immune systems from chemotherapy or radiation would be most prone to develop a West Nile infection from a mosquito bite. The vast majority of those who are bitten will have no evidence of illness or have only a mild flu. There are some people, however, who will develop symptoms in the brain in the form of meningitis or encephalitis, long term nervous system damage and not recover. The usual statistical can range can be from about 1 per million to 1 per 10,000. The severity of this illness appears to vary from time to time and from place to place but typically, the incidence of serious illness is very low.

What at the characteristic West Nile symptoms?

This is a flu-like illness that takes two to 14 days after a bite before symptoms would be noted. The vast majority of people notice no symptoms at all. If symptoms of “flu” appear, a headache, eye pain, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and fatigue can be noted. The fatigue can be extreme and last for weeks. Some people can develop a rash that can spread to the chest, stomach and back. The most serious complication of West Nile virus is viral encephalitis or meningitis.

Encephalitis Symptoms

Encephalitis can be caused by a number of infections, including the West Nile virus. This illness is characterized by chills, a severe headache, high temperature, nausea, and problems with both speech and vision. Life threatening symptoms are most apt, if their immune system is already not up to par from cancer treatment or from exposure to a wide range of common chemicals. These would include the pyrethrums, malathion, and the various solvents used in the production of pesticide control chemicals.

Meningitis Symptoms

Meningitis causes a high fever, headache and stiff neck. The symptoms may occur in 1-2 hours or slowly over a period of one to two days. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting, discomfort in bright light, mental confusion and sleepiness. It is easy to miss the diagnosis in an infant. One simple way for a parent to detect meningitis is to ask your child to bend his head and touch his chin to his chest. If a sick child cannot do this easily, check with your doctor to rule out meningitis. This can be a most serious infection

How Is the Diagnosis of This Disease Proven?

West Nile virus is detected by testing for viral antibodies in cerebral spinal fluid or blood. The antibodies usually show up within eight days of the symptoms and these typically should gradually subside. If someone has the above symptoms and a rising antibody titer for West Nile viral infection, it is highly suggestive or presumptive that this is the correct diagnosis. It is certainly possible, however, to have antibodies to the West Nile virus from a previous mild infection that caused no difficulty and then later on, in days to years, to have some serious brain or nervous symptoms from some other form of viral encephalitis. For a definitive diagnosis, a brain biopsy is required and a rising titer of West Nile Viral antibodies.
This is rarely done because of the expense. The people who have this illness and die can also have died of complications from some other illness. Those who do not approve of the spraying tend to think the numbers of those who are sick and die from the illness are inflated by various forms of misleading misinformation. Those who approve of the spraying have been accused of tending to make what they have recommended justified by their use of customized calculated statistics.

What can you do to prevent mosquito bites?

Use insect repellents on your clothing, not your skin.

* Herbal Armor is organic and contains essential oils
* Buzz Away contains 5 essential oils, castor oil and ethynol.

Study showed it to be 96% effective. 866-866-3320.
* Bite Blocker is said to provide 97% protection
* Naprapel- 84 % protection
* Avon Skin So Soft- 40% protection
* Naturale Ltd vapor wrist band, 60 hour protection.
* Mosquitoes do not like peppermint oil or lavender oil aromas.

These can be placed on clothing.

* Avoid high DEET-containing products because deaths in small children have been reported.
When this chemical is combined with pyrethrum, there is an increased potential for harm and
danger. (See Dr. Abou-Donia Reference.) Never use DEET products on an open wound or
sunburned skin.)

Other General Tips

* Avoid dark clothing
* Avoid dark damp bushy areas for hiking or walking
* Use no scented body lotions
* Avoid beer or beer cans
* Have a fan blowing on you when indoors. Mosquitoes do not like a draft.
* Keep your windows and doors tightly closed
* Use a yellow light outside doors

How Is a West Nile Viral Infection Traditionally Treated?

If there is pain, drugs are prescribed to control this problem. If there is dehydration, fluids are given orally or by vein. Most of the treatments simply relieve the obvious symptoms and suggest more rest. It is always wise, however, to check with your doctor, to avoid complications if you have flu-like symptoms when a concern about a West Nile infection exists in your community.

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Doris J. Rapp, M.D. • 1421 Colvin BlvdBuffalo, New York 14223
Phone 716-875-0398 • Fax 716-875-5399 • Email drrappmd@aol.com
© Dr. Rapp 2004