Bering's Hardware Urges Education and Preparation in Response to Texas West Nile Virus Outbreak in 2012

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Houston recently reported its first death of the year from West Nile Virus. This death is in addition to seven deaths in Dallas County and one in Tarrant County. The number of cases in Texas is also greater than at any time since 2004. It is worth restating what everyone needs to know about the West Nile Virus and what can be done to reduce its impact. Bering’s Hardware is committed to our community’s health and is striving to help educate Americans on steps they can take to protect themselves and loved ones.

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a virus that emerged around 1000 years ago and was first isolated by scientists in 1937. It spreads through the bites of mosquitoes to bird hosts who act as a multiplying ground for the virus. Once the viral load in a bird is high enough, new mosquito bites allow transmission to the next host, or a human. The majority (80%) of West Nile sufferers shows no symptoms and do not pass the virus on to others. About 20% of humans infected with WNV will show mild flu-like symptoms (fever, headache, nausea) for a few days to two weeks. In less than one percent of cases, symptoms can be severe and life-threatening. Older people (over 50 years) are more likely to fall into the severely impacted group. In a tiny fraction of cases, human-to-human transmission is possible through blood transfusion or from mother to child.

On an individual basis, most of what can be done to slow the spread of WNV is to combat the mosquito population during the summer to fall. In a household this amounts to patrolling your yard for standing water. Mosquitoes require standing water for their larval forms. Water that cannot be drained can be treated with “mosquito dunks” to prevent the maturation of mosquitoes. People should wear mosquito repellant that contains DEET or picaridin, especially during the morning and at dusk, when mosquito populations are most active. A variety of retail products are available that help to reduce the local presence of mosquitoes and their young. A more detailed description of how to fight mosquitoes can be found in the blog post linked (http://blog.berings.com/2012/03/21/mosquito-season-is-here/). Additionally, any dead birds found by family members should not be handled. Report and bird carcasses to your local health department.

Local communities can also help fight the spread of WNV by supporting neighborhood based mosquito eradication measures like fogging and spraying sewers. In severely impacted areas, cities and counties are considering aerial spraying for the first time in decades. Staying up to date on the current national situation is also beneficial. updates can be found at the Center for Disease Control's website. (http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm)

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Brad Thompson
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