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CDC reports the First Human Victim of West Vile Virus

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

An elderly resident in Glenn County near Sacramento is the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus infection this summer in California, according to Dr. Ron Chapman, the state health officer and director of the California Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The man was hospitalized, but is now recovering. The CDPH is the agency known for its Fight the Bite campaign reported last week that it has detected the first signs of West Nile virus in dead birds and mosquito samples in the Sacramento region.

“This first confirmed West Nile virus case this summer reminds us that we must take precautions to protect ourselves and our families from mosquito bites,” said Chapman.

“West Nile virus activity is greatest during the summertime.”

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals by the bite of an infected mosquito. The risk of serious illness to most people is low. However, some individuals – less than 1 percent – can develop a serious neurological illness such as encephalitis or meningitis. And people 50 years of age and older have a higher chance of getting sick and are more likely to develop complications. Recent data also indicate that those with diabetes and/or hypertension are at greatest risk for serious illness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), West Nile virus (WNV) is the leading cause of arboviral encephalitis in the United States. Originally discovered in Africa in 1937, WNV was first detected in the western hemisphere in 1999 in New York City. Since then it has caused seasonal epidemics of West Nile virus fever and severe neurological disease. West Nile virus is transmitted to humans and animals through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected with WNV when they feed on infected birds.

To date in 2013, West Nile virus has been detected in 31 California counties. The CDPH recommends that individuals prevent exposure to mosquito bites and West Nile virus by practicing the “Three Ds”:

  1. DEET – Apply insect repellent containing DEET, picaradin, oil of lemon eucalyptus or IR3535 according to label instructions. Make sure the repellent covers all of your exposed skin. Repellents keep mosquitoes from biting you. DEET can be used safely on infants and children 2 months of age and older.
  2. DAWN AND DUSK – Mosquitoes bite in the early morning and evening so it is important to wear proper clothing and repellent if outside during these times. Make sure that your doors and windows have tight-fitting screens to keep out mosquitoes. Repair or replace screens with tears or holes.
  3. DRAIN – Mosquitoes lay eggs on standing water. Eliminate all sources of standing water on your property, including flower pots, old car tires, swings, clogged rain gutters and pet bowls. If you know of a swimming pool that is not being properly maintained, please contact your local mosquito and vector control agency. Consider using BTI briquettes (mosquito dunks) in water that can’t be drained, such as in drinking troughs.

Here are some additional tips to keep you safe from contracting West Nile Virus:

  • Wear pants and long sleeves when outside. Spray thin clothing with repellent.
  • Consistently check areas that collect water and drain them (at least weekly).
  • Get rid of tin cans, old tires, buckets, unused kid’ pools or other containers that collect and hold water.
  • Clean debris from rain gutters, remove standing water from flat roofs, and repair leaks around faucets and air conditioners.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and wading pools at least every 3-4 days.
  • Fill or drain puddles, ditches and swampy areas.
  • Clean and chlorinate swimming pools, outdoor saunas and hot tubs.
  • Check for trapped water in plastic or canvas tarps used to cover boats or pools, and arrange the tarp to drain the water.

California’s West Nile virus website includes the latest information on West Nile virus activity in the state. Californians are encouraged to report all dead birds and dead tree squirrels on the website or by calling toll-free 1-877-WNV-BIRD (968-2473). When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. The Allied Universal Training System by Universal Fire/Life Safety Services is a convenient and affordable solution to all of the training needs of your building(s). Choosing our service cuts property management training related workloads by 90% and saves you over 50% compared to conventional training! More importantly, IT SAVES LIVES.

Human Cases of West Nile Virus on the Rise

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), state health departments have reported 3,142 cases of West Nile Virus in the United States so far this year (134 of which were fatal). Particularly alarming is the fact that the number of severe cases so far in 2012 is the highest reported since 2003. West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes have been reported by 48 states. The CDC also reports that two thirds of the cases have come from seven states (Texas, Mississippi, Michigan, South Dakota, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and California) with almost 40 percent of all cases reported from Texas.

“This year’s outbreak is the largest to date and certainly the most serious,” said Dr. Lyle Petersen, director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases.

Although experts disagree about the exact reasons for the severity of this year’s outbreak, they all agree that unusually high temperatures are likely a contributing factor. Although the total case numbers continue to increase, CDC officials remain unconcerned, believing that this year’s outbreak may have already peaked in mid- to late-August. If this holds true, we can expect outbreaks to taper off during or after October.

Here are some vital statistics about West Nile Virus:

  • The virus is commonly found in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East.
  • Although experts do not know exactly how long West Nile has been in America, officials with the CDC believe the virus has been in the eastern United States since 1999.
  • Four out of five people infected with West Nile virus do not show any symptoms.
  • People over the age of 50 and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of becoming ill if they become infected with the virus.
  • Up to 20 percent develop flu-like symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches (and occasionally) a skin rash on the trunk of the body along with swollen lymph glands. Symptoms of mild disease may last a few days.
  • Approximately one in 150 develops severe symptoms such as headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. Symptoms of the severe disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent. Rarely, death can occur.
  • The incubation period of West Nile virus in humans is three to 14 days.
  • Mosquitoes initially contract the virus by feeding on infected birds and then spread the disease to humans they bite.
  • The virus is not transmissible through casual human contact.
  • There are rare instances of West Nile virus spreading through blood transfusions, organ transplants and from mother-to-baby during pregnancy or through breast milk.

To reduce the risk of exposure to West Nile, take these simple steps:

  1. Maintain screens on windows and doors.
  2. Drain standing water where mosquitoes breed. Common breeding sites include old tires, flowerpots and clogged rain gutters.
  3. Use insect repellant containing DEET, Picaridin or Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus.
  4. When you are outside, wear long pants and long sleeves.
  5. Stay indoors at dusk and dawn when many mosquito species are most active.

For more information about West Nile Virus, check out free online resources available from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. When a disaster strikes, prior planning and clear decisive action can help save lives. For the latest emergency management training for facility/building managers, contact Allied Universal, Inc. Our new Version 3.0 system offers the best emergency training system.