Earlier this month, the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that the United States is experiencing its largest surge in the West Nile virus since 2004, with more than 1,590 confirmed and probable cases in 47 states. So far this year, 66 people have died from the virus as of the time this article was written.
It’s important to note that 80 percent of those infected with WNV will not show any symptoms and will recover without treatment. Up to 20 percent will experience flu-like symptoms, including head and body aches, nausea and vomiting, fever and occasionally swollen lymph glands and skin rashes.
According to the CDC, one in 150 will become seriously ill, with symptoms including high fever, headache, disorientation, tremors, neck stiffness and muscle weakness. In the most severe cases, victims will experience convulsions, vision loss, stupor, numbness and paralysis. Among this group, the disease can be fatal.
Although the virus can spread through transplants, transfusions, pregnancy and possibly breastfeeding, the vast majority of victims are infected by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Simple, often overlooked health concerns like this can be a bit scary. And since September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, there’s no time like the present to ensure that your affairs are in order should the unthinkable happen.
So, what can you do to reduce your risk and that of your family? There are two key strategies to keep in mind: Avoid exposure to mosquitoes and eliminate mosquito-breeding sites on your property.
Although you won’t be able to keep mosquitoes off your property, you can eliminate standing water, where mosquitoes breed, to keep the population down:
Although preventative measures can’t guarantee that you won’t become infected with West Nile, these steps can help minimize your risk. If you or your loved ones are bitten, however, keep an eye on each other. If your partner or child begins complaining of more serious symptoms, or if you observe such symptoms, seek medical attention.
Have a house and a car? Consider combining insurance.