J. Rapp, M.D. Board Certified in: Pediatrics, Allergy and Environmental
Former Clinical Assistant Prof. Pediatrics at SUNYAB August 24, 200
You Sick from West Nile Virus or The Chemical Sprays?
What Should You Look For and Do, Both Medically and Legally?
YOUR ILLNESS A WEST NILE VIRAL INFECTION?
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 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
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
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
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
* 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.