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West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus

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Should You be Worried about West Nile?

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 09:47 PM CDT

The latest West Nile count in Austin and Travis County:  78 batches of mosquitoes in 20 different zip codes have been identified as West Nile carriers. 18 human cases have been reported, including one fatality.

A rash of recent cases here and in North Texas has created something of a public health scare.  But people who follow West Nile closely say in many cases, it’s nothing to get too worried about.

“Probably 80 percent of people who get infected have no symptoms at all,” says Dr. Phil Huang, who oversees the fight against the virus, and the mosquitoes who carry it, in Austin and Travis County. 

Dr. Huang says most of the remaining 20 percent of people infected with West Nile develop mild symptoms like fever, headache, rash, or swollen lymph glands.  But Dr. Huang says it’s the select few cases that really get our attention, “About 1 of 150 might get the severe neuroinvasive disease, with the inflammation of the brain and the membrane around the brain”.

That can result in higher fever, severe headache, stiff neck, confusion, convulsions, paralysis and even death.  Scary stuff, which explains why, “We have gotten a lot of calls lately in regards to a test,” says Sarah Toney, owner of Any Lab Now here in Austin.  Just like mosquitoes, her staffers have been busy drawing blood from Austinites willing to pay $119 for a West Nile test.

Toney says Any Lab Now has been inundated with phone calls this week, “You know I am having these symptoms.  How do I find out if I have West Nile?  What can I do?  Some people are in panic mode, some are not.”

There is a degree of panic.  Just for perspective the folks at Any Lab Now say that until now they had never previously gotten any requests for West Nile Tests.  Additionally, they say that because of increased testing, results that usually come back in about a day are sometimes taking a week.  Should You be Worried about West Nile?

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Web Poll

A new West Nile web poll will be posted soon.

Are you concerned about the West Nile Virus?

Yes, I'm concerned.
No, I'm not worried.

Poll Results

80.95% Yes, I'm concerned.
19.04% No, I'm not worried.

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