Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Truth About West Nile Virus by Lela Chambers

There is a lot of mis-information out there regarding the mosquito-transmitted virus known as the West Nile virus. For the past several years, there has been a lot of hype in the media surrounding the West Nile virus. This virus is known to be transmitted by mosquitoes and therefore has generally increased pubic worry regarding mosquito bites. However, the real threat that the West Nile virus poses on individuals is paltry. First of all, most healthy people exposed to the West Nile virus probably never even know they had it. The immune system produces antibodies that fight the virus and protect the body for life. It is estimated that as many as 80% of people infected with West Nile virus never even show a symptom!

People who do show symptoms after acquiring West Nile virus probably never think that they have anything more than a small case of the summer flu. Common symptoms of the virus include fever and body aches. Sound familiar? Thousands of people have mistook the West Nile virus for the common cold and were no worse off for having done so after recovering a few days later.

When West Nile virus first struck fear into the public in 2003, 264 people died as a result of the virus that year. While this may seem like a lot, it's quite insignificant in the grand scheme of human population. In America, it is estimated that 20,000 people die from the flu every year. You don't exactly see people lining up with life-or-death urgency in order to receive their annual flu shots, do you?

Fear-inducing news stories are what people tune into, so it's only natural that media outlets will blow any mosquito-borne virus that could potentially be life-threatening way out of proportion. The reality is, West Nile virus is something most healthy, young people need not worry about; the few people who are mortally affected by the virus typically have other health complications or are elderly. In their case, any virus including the common cold can be deadly. The mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus should be feared about as much as the common cold.