(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
There have been six cases of people – all in the central coastal region – infected with West Nile virus since March, the Health Ministry reported on Wednesday.
Fortunately, no one was seriously ill, but in the past, there have been a few deaths.
West Nile fever, spread by infected mosquitoes, usually involves a mild, flu-like disease that goes away by itself. Its symptoms are fever, headache, weakness, joint and muscle pain, conjunctivitis, a rash and sometimes nausea and diarrhea.
The incubation period between the infection and the appearance of symptoms is between seven days and two weeks.
However, about 1% of those infected develop severe disease, with neurological complications such as nerve inflammation or acute encephalitis.
West Nile fever is a disease endemic to this region transmitted to humans and animals by female mosquitoes that previously bit infected birds. The annual morbidity rates range between 0.5 to 1.2 cases per 100,000 residents. There were 88 cases last year, which was in the “normal” range, the ministry said. There is no protective vaccine against it; thus, prevention of mosquito infection and mosquito bites is very important.
The ministry advised eliminating stagnant sources of water that could be breeding places for the insects. Find, remove, puncture or overturn any container with water, such as old tires, buckets and barrels.
Prevent water accumulation in the bottom of potted plants and window boxes. Even drinking-water bowls for pets should be emptied, and the water replaced, on a regular basis. Cover swimming pools.
Ornamental ponds should be populated by fish to consume mosquito larvae. Clean and drain gutters.
To avoid mosquito bites, use insect repellents; wear longsleeved but light clothing, operate fans both indoors and outdoors; install screens on windows and doors; and inform local authorities of the existence of standing water and mosquito hazards in public areas.