Flying Virus

The West Nile virus has infected more people in Pennsylvania than ever before

Myah Hrinko, Photo Editor/Social Media Director

Imagine a virus that is carried by an insect that has an estimated population of over 70 quadrillion world wide. Now imagine that this virus has taken over every state in the US. This lethal microorganism is called the West Nile virus.

Ever since 1999, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) has been doing research on the virus and has concluded that,“cases of West Nile virus (WNV) occur during mosquito season, which starts in the summer and continues through fall.” This particular virus is mostly spread through mosquitoes and, in more recent years, birds.“An infected mosquito feeds on an uninfected bird, the virus builds up in the bird. Another mosquito feeds on this bird and becomes infected. As this cycle is repeated, the number of infected birds and mosquitoes increases. At some point, the number of infected mosquitoes becomes great enough that transmission to other animals, including horses and humans, starts to occur,” Colorado State University said.

While scientists are determining how the virus is to be cured, workers at the CDC are all working together to develop a vaccine to help those who have been infected by the virus.

“Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will have symptoms which can include fever, headache, 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 to as long as several weeks.” the CDC said.  

After doing some research on the virus, one of the most frequently asked questions are:   “What am I able to do to protect myself?”

“Natural insect repellents (repellents not registered with EPA) sprayed on clothing will do a great job at keeping the insects away. Also, use permethrin to treat clothing and gear (such as pants, boots, socks, and tents),” the CDC said.

 “Mosquitoes are weak flyers and won’t travel far from where they are born. If there are mosquitoes in your backyard or neighborhood, they are likely laying eggs there, as well.” The CDC continues to tell citizens, that “If you’re being bitten by mosquitoes, nine times out of 10 they coming from your property. Get rid of even small amounts of standing water around your home,” Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection said.

As community members say, this virus is unusual and very hard to stay away from.  Beaver County is one of the most infected parts of PA, according to the Virus Control Program.. But Allegany county is the first that found several people that tested positive for the virus. In saying that, Beaver County is always told by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to “take as many precautions as possible.”