West Nile Virus
Tick Borne West Nile Virus
Most people know that mosquitoes are carriers of the West Nile Virus, but many of us are unaware that ticks are also important contributors. Tick borne West Nile Virus is a serious cause for concern in North America. While mosquitoes remain the major contributors in the transmission of the disease, ticks have recently been discovered to play a significant role. Birds that carry the virus frequently become infested with ticks, which in turn become infected with the virus. Subsequently, the infected tick transmits the virus to other birds, creating an elevated level of infected birds. Mosquitoes that bite infected birds become carriers of tick borne West Nile Virus.
Symptoms of West Nile Virus
In the rare and more serious cases known as West Nile Encephalitis, the disease presents a rapid onset of symptoms such as:
In the very severe cases, West Nile Encephalitis can induce a state of coma, cause permanent brain damage, and/or death.
What safety precautions can you take?
The best defence against contracting West Nile Virus or tick borne West Nile Virus is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes and avoid areas where ticks flourish. During the summer months, this is easier said than done, but the following precautions are definitely helpful:
If you see a tick on your skin, remove it with tweezers by its head (it would be the closest part to your skin). Never crush or swat the tick as this action would encourage it to “latch on” even more tightly. To date, there have been no reported case of tick borne West Nile virus as a result of a direct bite from a tick to a human, but ticks do transmit other illnesses such as Lyme disease.
If you think you might have contracted West Nile Virus, or tick borne West Nile Virus, it is recommended that you consult a doctor immediately.
Irene Gradinger is editor for The West Nile Virus website. For more information about the disease, visit her site at www.west-nile-virus-prevention.com.