West Nile virus goes undetected for years
Virus is now suspected of causing additional complications in victims
This is a bad year for West Nile cases. Doctors have already reported 700 cases with 29 fatal, although doctors believe the actual number of cases is much higher. At least 400 of those cases report serious complications. And now the virus is now suspected of causing additional complications in victims, sometimes years after becoming infected.
Doctors say the 2012 West Nile season is just beginning, so they expect to see the number of cases and fatalities to rise over the coming months.
Doctors now estimate that about 9 percent of those infected with the virus develop long-term kidney disease.
Doctors report that in such cases, the victims experience a slow decline in health as their kidneys become progressively worse.
A study by the National Institutes of Health revealed that of 200 people infected with the virus over the last 10 years, 40 percent have developed some kind of kidney disease alongside long-term West Nile infection.
While the study followed patients who knowingly had the virus, doctors believe it is also happening to people who never showed symptoms at all. That's a particular danger, because a victim could be suffering kidney damage and not even be aware that it's happening. Worse, when the condition is discovered, West Nile might not be considered as a cause.
West Nile virus is a new disease in America, arriving in 1999. However, since that time, it has infected an estimated 3 million Americans. So far there is no vaccine for it.
The virus cannot be spread from person to person, it must be transmitted via mosquitoes, who get it from birds.
Doctors say the 2012 West Nile season is just beginning, so they expect to see the number of cases and fatalities to rise over the coming months. Possibly worse, they are now preparing for the disease to be more than a transitory infection. Now doctors must think about long-term care and checkups for patients who have been infected.
Experts say that repelling mosquitoes is the best tactic against the virus. Long sleeves and pants are a start and cleaning out any pools of standing water is critical. Mosquitoes can breed in small pools of standing water, so people are encouraged to drain any excess water in stagnant ponds, birdbaths, and in drainage gutters, which are often overlooked.
The disease is most prevalent in the South and California, but it has been found everywhere in the US where mosquitoes live, which essentially means all Americans need to take precautions.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: West Nile virus, mosquitoes, kidney failure
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