The west Nile virus is once again causing quite a bit of a scare as the number of cases continues to increase with each passing day. The current death toll is at 163, and this is an increase from last week’s 147 according to health officials in the U.S. The west Nile virus has already been reported in 48 states, and it has been found to have infected mosquitoes, humans and birds. 3969 of these cases involved people and in 2010 of these cases, the disease was classified as neuroinvasive. Other neuroinvasive diseases include meningitis and encephalitis.

Highest figures since 2003

What is most worrying to health officials is that this is the highest number of reported cases since 2003? Eight states are at the greatest risk since 70% of the reported cases have been in these states. These states are Texas, Oklahoma, Michigan, Illinois, South Dakota, Louisiana, California and Mississippi. A third of all the cases have been reported in Texas according to the CDC, and this should be a major alert to those who reside in this state.

According to the CDC, out of all people who get infected by the West Nile Virus, eighty percent don’t develop any or develop very few symptoms. 20 percent end up with mild symptoms such as headaches, pains in the joints, rashes on the skin, fever and swelling of the lymph glands. In most cases, people who get infected by the West Nile virus usually recover on their own, but the CDC still recommends that people who develop the symptoms seek medical attention.

No cure or Vaccine

Despite its normally non-lethal nature, there is neither a cure nor a vaccine that will keep you from being infected by this virus, and thus it is best to stay safe. The CDC is currently recommending that people use insect repellants and also participate in programs that are geared towards getting rid of mosquitoes. The people who are at the highest risk are those above 50 years of age and those with preexisting medical problems like cancer, hypertension, organ transplants and diabetes. People with these problems are much more likely to suffer serious illness as a result of the West Nile virus.

How to keep from getting infected

The most prolific carriers for this virus are mosquitoes and thus the best way to keep from getting the West Nile virus is to keep from being bitten by mosquitoes. Mosquitoes usually pick the virus from birds, which are already infected. There are several ways to prevent mosquito bites such as using insect repellents, wearing clothes with long sleeves and pants, not leaving water standing anywhere around the house and also repairing any doors and window screens as these may let in the mosquitoes. Standing water such as in flower pots and buckets are a perfect breeding spot for mosquitoes and even water in a puddle will bring the mosquitoes much closer to your home. With these measures, you will greatly reduce the chance of you or your family falling victim to this virus.