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Martha Jefferson Healthwise: West Nile Virus

August 29, 2012

For the first time since the West Nile virus was discovered in the United States in 1999 more cases are being reported than ever before. In this week's Martha Jefferson Healthwise report CBS19 Stephanie Satchell tells us what you need to know to keep your family safe.

If you're planning to spend some time outdoors, health officials at Albemarle Center for Family Medicine say you may want to think about protecting yourself against West Nile virus.

“We don't want to scare the population, but it is something to be concerned about,” said Genevieve Barron, Family Nurse Practitioner, Albemarle Center for Family Medicine.

West Nile virus is a mosquito born virus which causes symptoms like headaches, body aches, nausea, vomiting and in some cases death.

“The reason we're hearing a lot more about it this year is this is the first year since it was first discovered in 1999 that we've had more cases,” said Barron.

According to the CDC, the West Nile virus has been reported in 47 states. More than 1,118 people have been infected in the United States and at least 41 people have died.

“It is very important to be aware of West Nile virus because that way if you do experience more severe symptoms like high fevers, headaches, stiff necks… you know to contact your doctor right away,” said Barron.

Your physician will can run some tests to find out whether or not you have West Nile virus.

Barron says while contracting West Nile virus is rare, you should still do a few things to prevent it.

“If you're going to be out of doors, make sure that you're covered, that you're wearing insect repellent, make sure that you dump standing bodies of water. So, refilling your bird bath once a week...making sure that your animal bowls are refreshed once a day,” said Barron.

Those are all preventative measures that should keep the mosquitos away and keep your family West Nile virus free.

Barron says August and September are anticipated to see the most cases of West Nile virus.

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