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West Nile Virus In The United States

2597 words - 10 pages

West Nile virus (WNV) is a single-stranded flavivirus mostly present in the eastern hemisphere that can affect humans, birds, horses, mosquitoes, and other domestic and wild animals. It has plagued the world since it was first identified in West Nile province of Uganda in 1937 (Sally Murray). Since this time, according to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the disease has been spotted in “Africa … Europe, the Middle East, West and Central Asia … the United States … Canada,” and now Central America. Despite its discovery in the 1930’s, the western hemisphere went without the disease until 1999; the first documented case of WNV in the United States was in New York (Watson). West Nile Virus presents a near never-ending problem for the United States because of its similarities to other arboviral disease and its ability to transmit quickly.

Now that it has been fourteen years since the virus was identified in New York, according to the CDC’s report “West Nile Virus Disease And Other Arboviral Diseases-United States, 2011,” WNV has become the leading cause of domestically acquired arboviral diseases in the United States, an arboviral disease, which can also be called an arthropodborne disease, is a disease that is transmitted by an arthropod vector. The main vector of West Nile virus is the mosquito, other arthropods such as the tick and fleas may also carry the disease but this is less likely. There is not one specific species of mosquitoes that is capable of being the host of the disease, almost all species of mosquitoes can be the host of the disease. Since mosquito populations are more prevalent in hot and moist climates, it is then safe to assume the both temperature and rainfall an effect on the average number of cases of WNV in a month. According to Soverow, there is significant data that supports the claim that there is a direct relationship between temperature and WNV cases, but there has been conflicting results with the relationship between rainfall and WNV.

A mosquito is capable of transmitting the disease about ten to fourteen days after it has fed on an infected bird (SCDHEC), the primary host of WNV. Both humans and horses are considered “dead-end hosts” because the virus levels in each host are too low for mosquitoes to become infected from feeding on them. Despite the fact that humans are not able to infect mosquitoes, humans are able to transmit the disease person-to-person through organ transplants, blood transfusions, breastfeeding, or during pregnancy from the mother to the baby.

Although it seems that this disease can spread quite easily, most arboviral diseases, such as WNV, are asymptomatic, approximately four out of five cases, according to the SCDHEC; this leaves the probability of developing any kind of symptoms one out of five cases. The symptomatic cases of WNV can be further divided into mild and serious and they may appear anywhere between three to fourteen days after...

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