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West Nile Virus - Research Paper Example

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The West Nile Virus (WNV) is caused by a microorganism belonging to a group of disease bearing viruses known as flaviviruses that are usually spread by ticks and mosquitoes. These are normally female mosquitoes, which need blood from hosts of various preferred species, in order…
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West Nile Virus
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The West Nile Virus (WNV) is caused by a microorganism belonging to a group of disease bearing viruses known as flaviviruses that are usually spread by ticks and mosquitoes. These are normally female mosquitoes, which need blood from hosts of various preferred species, in order to fertilize their eggs. Margulies (15) states that scientists first learned of the virus while studying sleeping sickness in Uganda in 1937 and the virus is today commonly found in Africa, West Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. This virus was first ascertained in the United States in the late nineties with its earliest case in New York. Over the next few years, this virus had spread across the whole of North America and the Caribbean, increasing the risk of new infections.
While this virus does not commonly affect human beings, cases of infections are on the increase as this virus spreads globally. The first step, in the contamination process, takes place when a female mosquito bites an infected bird. This mosquito obtains the virus while consuming the bird’s blood and in the process, the virus is passed on to it. The infected female mosquito then spreads the virus through their bites to humans and most of the infections occur among the elderly and people who have impaired immune systems. There is also a high possibility of this virus to be spread to those people who live in areas where there are mosquitoes.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, people who get the virus display mild symptoms as fever, headaches, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands, but in cases where the virus enters the brain however; it can cause inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). Most of the deaths caused by WNV have been among birds with few human cases, an example of which is in 2009, where there were 720 human cases of the disease in the United States amongst, which only thirty-two were fatal.
There are currently no vaccines or treatments for the human WNV disease and now, scientists have accelerated the research on developing the tools necessary for its treatment and prevention. According to Margulies (47), the best way to prevent the virus is by continuously testing for it so that it can be detected early and steps taken to prevent its further spread. Furthermore, it is advisable to frequently used mosquito repellent on exposed skin so that the possibility of being bitten is reduced. Those living in areas where mosquitoes of any species can be found are advised to wear long sleeved shirts. These shirts should be tacked in so that mosquitoes do not easily reach ones skin, and as a further preventative measure, it is best to wear long trousers. People are advised not to go anywhere near places which are known to have large populations of mosquitoes. To go to such places would be putting themselves at an increased risk of being infected by the virus.
Works Cited
Margulies, P. West Nile Virus. New York: Rosen Publishing, 2004. Print
“West Nile Virus.” National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. November 29, 2011. Web. 19 November 2012. Read More
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