The West Nile virus is back in the US in 2011.
Minnesota authorities confirmed the presence of the West Nile virus in a dead crow in Minneapolis. Connecticut authorities reported that mosquitoes tested positive for the disease in Bridgeport. In Tennessee, it was detected in mosquitoes in Knoxville, Nashville, and Memphis.
Additional states that have detected this virus include Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
In Mississippi, it has even infected a person. In 2010, there were 1,021 cases of human infections.
The West Nile virus mainly targets birds. However, it's also known to infect humans, dogs, squirrels, and rabbits. The primary way humans contract the disease the disease is through mosquitoes that have bitten infected birds.
Ninety percent of people who contract this disease show no symptoms. A minority of them suffer from fever, headaches, vomiting, and skin rashes for a few days to several weeks.
A tiny percentage, about 1 in 150, will develop severe illnesses, which could entail permanent neurological damage and death in some of these cases.
How can you protect yourself from this disease?
Start with not touching dead birds. Then, try to avoid mosquito bites. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends wearing bug repellant when outside, wearing long sleeves and pants outside if possible, having working screens on windows, and getting rid of standing water.