Lance Harrison was infected with West Nile Virus in August of 2007. His symptoms tarted with exhaustion and headaches, which led to encephalitis. He was in the hospital for ten days and lost strength, had difficulty walking, and was in bed for three months. Lance says he is fortunate to be alive, but he still has some residual affects today.
Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.
About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
As of August 28, 2012, 48 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 1,590 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 65 deaths, have been reported to CDC. Of these, 889 (56%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 701 (44%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease. The 1,590 cases reported thus far in 2012 is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the last week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999. Over 70 percent of the cases have been reported from six states (Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan) and over 45 percent of all cases have been reported from Texas. )
The best prevention is to protect yourself from mosquito bites. Wear insect repellent with DEET in it, and cover up between dusk and dawn. It is also recommended that you remove any standing water from your yard because those areas are breeding grounds for mosquitoes.