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EMA Care Blog

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West Nile Virus Outbreak in Israel

anti-mosquito-spray

In recent weeks there has been a surge of West Nile Virus in Israel. A few hundred people have been infected, and several people (elderly or immunocompromised) have died in recent weeks.

West Nile Virus is a virus spread by mosquitoes that have fed off of infected birds. The incubation period is 5-21 days on average. The virus peak activity, according to the Israel Ministry of Health, is from mid-August to mid-October. According to the CDC, 80% of people infected have no noticeable symptoms.

West Nile Virus's symptoms for the remaining 20% of infected individuals are usually mild flu-like symptoms, including a low-grade fever, body or muscle aches, fatigue, diarrhea, and rash. Less than 1% of infected people will develop serious symptoms affecting the nervous system, including high fever, neck stiffness, headache, disorientation, seizures, vision changes, numbness, and in severe cases, coma, brain inflammation, and death is possible.

People at the highest risk for developing complications or serious illness include people over age 60, people with chronic illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and immunosuppressed conditions.

Preventing West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus can be prevented with adequate mosquito protection, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active. However, they can be active in shady areas throughout the day. People should apply mosquito repellants to all exposed skin areas, and long sleeves and long pants/ skirts should be worn if possible. Women who wear skirts should use repellent on their lower legs even above the skirt line.

What can I do if a mosquito bites me?

Most mosquito bites are harmless but annoying. If symptoms are described as developing within 3 weeks of the mosquito bite, report to a physician. Treatment is supportive only, as there is no vaccine or medication for the virus. That means you can treat the symptoms with over-the-counter medications, such as Acetaminophen or Ibuprofen.


People who develop more severe symptoms may need to be hospitalized to get more intensive treatment such as IV fluids and medications.

 

Mononucleosis in Israel – Prevention & Management
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