What You Should Know About West Nile Virus

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By Les Goldberg

So far this year, 47 states have reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 1118 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 41 deaths, have been reported to  the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) .   One of the deaths occurred in California.

According to CDC officials, it is the highest number of West Nile virus disease cases reported to CDC through the third week in August since West Nile virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.  Of these,  629 (56%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis that invade the nervous system) and 489 (44%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease (less severe symptoms such as fever that do not get reported or treated.)

The biggest culprit in the spread of WNV is the mosquito.   After a mosquito feeds on an infected bird, it carries the disease to other animals and humans when it bites.   In less frequent cases, the virus has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and during pregnancy from mother to baby.   It is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so here are some tips on how to reduce the risks of coming in contact with WNV which is carried mostly by mosquitoes:

Of these, 629 (56%) were classified as neuro-invasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 489 (44%) were classified as non-neuro-invasive disease.

The following WNV prevention checklist is offered by all Southern California health experts:

  1. Birdbaths:  Clean weekly
  2. Chain link fences: Cap all fence pipes
  3. Ponds: Stock with Mosquito Fish
  4. Drains and rain gutters: Keep unclogged
  5. Dumpsters and trash containers:  Keep covered and remove water inside and underneath.
  6. Faucets and hoses: Fix any leaks
  7. Flat Roofs:  Remove puddles after rain
  8. Irrigation: Do not over water, and fill in low spots
  9. Lawn ornaments:  Check for areas that hold water
  10. Machinery: Cover and clean
  11. Playground:  Drill drainage holds in tire swings and equipment
  12. Pools/spas: Drain, cover or stock mosquito fish in unused pools and spas
  13. Potted Plants: Do not over water, empty saucers weekly or fill saucers with sand. Turn empty pots upside down or store indoors.
  14. Tires, pipes and other places that collect water: Dispose or drill holes for drainage
  15. Tool sheds:  Rid water around foundation
  16. Water troughs for animals:  Clean daily
  17. Wheelbarrows:  Park upright or upside down.

In addition, you should:

  • Use insect repellent contain DEET and follow the directions on the label
  • Fix torn window and door screens to prevent an indoor mosquito invasion
  • Limit outdoor activity at dawn and dusk when mosquitos are most active
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants when outdoors

For more information about the West Nile Virus and how to recognize, treat and prevent it, we recommend the following web sites:

•    US Center for Disease Control & Prevention:   www.cdc.gov

•     San Diego:           www.sdfightthebite.com

•     San Bernardino:  www.sbcounty.gov

•     Orange:                www.ochca.com

•     Riverside:            www.rivcoph.org


Les Goldberg, APR is an award-winning, experienced journalist and public relations practitioner.    His firm, Les Goldberg Public Relations, is one of Southern California’s pioneer public relations agencies specializing in high technology and consumer electronics.

Throughout his career Les has shared his knowledge and experience as a part-time professor for the marketing and business schools at several Southern California universities, including UCI, Chapman University and California State Universities in Fullerton, Long Beach, Los Angeles and Dominguez Hills.

Today, in addition to his agency and teaching responsibilities, Les is a columnist for senior publications, including his popular “The Gadget Geezer” column which appears in Senior Reporter, Not Born Yesterday, Life After 50, Examiner.com and OCActiveSeniors.com.   As a full-time journalist, he was a staff writer for the Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, Glendale News-Press, Culver City Star-News, Stars & Stripes Europe, OC Metro, OC Home & Outdoors and Digital Photographer.

Among the companies that have benefited from Les Goldberg’s brand of public relations include Doctors Telehealth Network, AST Research, Ashton-Tate, US Robotics, Phoenix Technologies, Odetics, MAI/Basic Four, American Home Theater, Inland Technologies; Freedom Innovations, Flex-Foot, Incline SoftWorks, USA Wireless Inc., D-Link Systems, Bell Micro, Seiko Instruments and Etak, Inc., a division of Sony.

Les holds a Certificate in Public Relations from UCLA, bachelor’s degree in journalism from California State University, Northridge and accreditation (APR) from the Public Relations Society of America where he served two terms as president of the Orange County chapter and member of the PRSA National Board of Directors. A past winner of the chapter’s Distinguished Service Award, he has been frequently honored for his achievements and contributions to his profession and his community.

Visit Les’ site at www.LesGoldberg.com



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