Sunday, July 31, 2005

Far West Nile Virus

Way back when I was a teenager I had a rather traumatic experience with a persistant mosquito. My folks had just built on a den and one corner of it was my "room" a bed and dresser. It was right next to a window at ground level. I was so excited to have my own "room". We had hot summers also and slept with the windows open. The addition to the house was so new we didn't have screens yet. I was regularly "bugged" by mosquitos. I knew because I could hear very well. I heard their little "high pitched" whins as they hovered for a place to land and suck. One particularly loud one must've been right by my ear. I waited and then slapped hard down on my ear to kill it. Pretty soon are heard its really loud buzzing inside my ear canal. I got up and told my folks. At first they didn't believe me. It was driving me crazy. It hadn't died and wasn't about to yet. It was stuck in there and wouldn't go in any farther and also wouldn't come out. We couldn't see it but I sure could hear it.

Pretty soon it calmed down and only buzzed once in awhile. Needless to say, I didn't get much sleep that night. The next day, I refused to go to school. I persisted in the belief that I had a live bug in there. They finally got an emergency appointment with our regular G.P. (no urgent care clinics in those days). He went in there with a long-nosed tweezers and sure enough, pulled out a big glob of wax and what was left of a little "female sucker" who had buzzer herself to death. I took it, in a little medicine container, back to school to show and tell and as proof why I had been out half a day.

Now I'm seeing this full page, color display in the Press-Enterprise yesterday on this scary virus. It is full of diagrams, facts and figures. Quite impressive. It has the bugs life cycle and the reason only females need the blood. They spread this sometimes deadly virus from infected birds, horses or house pets. It has a history since 1937 when the first case was isolated in an adult woman in the West Nile district of Uganda. It was next noticed in Israel, Egypt and France in the 60's. The first appearance in the U.S. was in New York City...source unknown. In 2003 it was again discovered in mosquitoes, birds and people in Southern California. June 24, 2004, a 57 year old Orange Co. man was the first human victim. There have been 830 cases to date in Calif., 391 in Ariz. and 291 in Colo. These are the leader states. Last year the deaths were down to 100 from highs of 284 and 264 the previous years nationwide.

Symptoms: Mild Infection: Headache, fever, eye pain, neck stiffness, swollen lymph nodes, skin rash, body/muscle aches and pains, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Sounds like the flu. Severe Infection: severe headache, high fever, brain and spinal cord inflamation, confusion/stupor, tremors confulsions paralysis, severe muscle weakness, loss of cordination.

Treatment: Mild: There is no specific treatment, it usually wanes on its own. Severe: Seek medical attention in a hospital immediately if symptoms are severe and persist. Intravenous fluids and breathing help are given along with nursing care.

Where to call: For potential mosquito-breeding ponds: (800)442-2283 S.B. Co. or they can direct you to other counties services for mosquito control. To report dead birds: Hot line: (877)968-2473.

Looking back, I'm sure glad that doomed little sucker in my ear never was able to take her last drink from me. Bob


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