West Nile Virus and Insect Borne Diseases
WebMD Live Events Transcript
West Nile virus is making its way from coast to coast. And Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever are still out there. We talked about insect-borne illnesses: precautions, insect control, symptoms, and more with our "diseases in the news" expert, Georges Benjamin, MD, and Virginia Caine, MD, on July 27, 2004.
The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.
We ask anybody who has a wading pool to change the water on a weekly basis, if they can't get rid of it on a daily basis. Birdbaths should be cleaned too, as well.
Are mosquitoes only a risk at dawn and dusk? Is that the only time they are out (do they sleep during the day)?
You're at the highest risk from mosquitoes from dusk to dawn. That's their time for feeding, so your chances are higher of getting bit, but mosquitoes can bite you any time of the day.
Also, when West Nile first entered the U.S., the type of mosquito that was infected tended to be more active in the dusk and the dawn; however, in some parts of the country we're beginning to see mosquitoes that are infected that bite at any time. So the recommendation about dusk and dawn is still valid, but people, if they're going out camping or out picnicking or outdoors, should always protect themselves from mosquitoes.
People should think about using protective clothing and also using a propellant spray containing DEET. The DEET should not be sprayed on a person's skin, but on the clothing items.
You should read the product insert very carefully and talk with your doctor about using DEET with young children. There are some cautions about using DEET with young children.
What is the name of the virus that causes West Nile disease (etiological agent(s))? What is the incidence of West Nile virus found in the Washington metropolitan area? Has anyone or any institution cultured the agent?
The virus can be isolated from the blood of three-fourths of patients on the first day. I think it's primarily a serologic test.
Yes, they can identify the virus, but that's not the important issue. The important issue is of the people who get infected, nearly 20% get West Nile fever. Of those who get ill, less than 1% gets the severe form of disease. The more we know about this disease the more we're discovering more people have been infected, but the good news is the vast majority of people don't get ill.
I'm not aware of reports in the Washington, DC, area this season. We certainly know it's in Washington, DC. The first case in the region was in Baltimore, Md., nearly three years ago. It has been detected in Maryland, the District of Columbia, and Virginia. It should be expected that the disease will return, maybe later this summer.
What are the symptoms of the West Nile virus?
Usually anywhere from one to six days after being bitten a patient can present with: