West Nile Virus - Philly Moving Aggressively
Today, Philadelphia will begin spraying parts of Fairmount Park in efforts to reduce the spread of West Nile Virus, as we move into what many see as a critical time of year where battling the disease is concerned. This evening, at dusk, a truck with a mounted spray machine will dose areas in the eastern part of the park, primarily Robin Hood Dell East, Smith’s Playground, Strawberry Mansion, as well as areas around Reservoir and Kelly Drives.
As fall approaches and we enter into what is the peak time of year for mosquito numbers, we must remain watchful and diligent in our preventive practices. People are cautioned to remain indoors during early mornings and dusk. If you do have to venture out then it’s strongly advised that you wear long sleeves and/or use insect repellent, one containing DEET. Keeping a watchful eye out for insect bites in infants, children, people with disabilities and seniors is especially important as these groups may be more prone to contracting the disease and are less likely to be able to protect themselves.
Remember that one in five people unlucky enough to get WNV may develop West Nile Fever.This more serious incarnation can last from a few days to more than a few weeks and the person’s immune system may stop the onslaught. Those symptoms are fever, fatigue, headaches, swollen lymph glands and possibly, a rash on the body. People contracting West Nile Fever have a 1 in 150 chance to contract a more severe neuroinvasive form of the disease, West Nile Encephalitis or Meningitis.
Called neuroinvasive because they each attack the nervous system, the symptoms for these conditions are headaches, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, confusion/disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness or paralysis. Anyone is susceptible but those over the age of 50 and others with pre-existing conditions are more so. And let’s not lose sight of the other infections caused by mosquito bites. These include Malaria, Dengue Fever, Yellow Fever, St. Louis Encephalitis, La Crosse Encephalitis and Western Equine Encephalitis. These are all hazardous to humans and, just like WNV, are out there as well.
As of September 4, 2012, there have been 1,993 cases of West Nile Disease reported in people, birds or mosquitoes; 1,064 (54 percent) neuroinvasive and 924 (46 percent) non-neuroinvasive occurrences. This is a 25 percent increase over last week’s numbers. To area gardeners, I would say that there is definitely a new game in town; one that’s absolutely necessary we each learn to play. Gone are those days of care-freely stepping into your yard and tending to your plots. Nowadays, serious preparations must be made in order to safeguard your health.
Even if you’re only going to be outside for a few seconds, you still should use a repellant or wear long sleeves/long pants, and spray those articles of clothing with repellent, as well (On a personal note, going outside simply to turn my water on or off resulted in at least 4-5 insect bites on my person in the few seconds it would take for me to do so). It makes no difference how little an amount of time you’ll be outside. You can be bitten rather quickly and it only takes one bite to produce a serious problem.