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Duke Medicine: What's the buzz about West Nile Virus?

Posted August 20, 2012

Worried about West Nile virus? That wouldn’t be surprising. The infectious disease is raging through hot, dry Texas, and the first death was recently reported here in North Carolina.

To put the disease in perspective and allay concerns, Micah McClain, M.D., PhD, an infectious disease specialist at Duke, offers this helpful information on the mosquito-born illness so you can be sure you and your family remain safe and healthy this summer.

What exactly is West Nile Virus?
McClain: West Nile virus is a potentially serious infectious disease that is spread by mosquitoes.

Is it prevalent in North Carolina?
McClain: Historically, no, but nationally there have been more cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) this year than normal. Last year there were only two cases reported from North Carolina. However, southern states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana are experiencing larger than normal outbreaks this year.

What kinds of symptoms does West Nile Virus cause?
McClain: Eighty percent of individuals who get the virus never actually have any symptoms. That means only 20 percent of those infected will see symptoms such as fever, headache, nausea, and a stiff neck. Most symptoms are mild, but serious symptoms do occur.

Are children at risk? What should you do if your child experiences these symptoms? Is there anything you can do to prevent or protect your family from getting West Nile Virus? Read the full post at DukeHealth.org.

Duke Medicine, Go Ask Mom's sponsor, offers health information and tips every Tuesday.


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