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Are children at risk of contracting West Nile Virus?

West Nile sweeps the U.S.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says that optimal breeding conditions around the U.S. is partly to blame for this year’s record number of West Nile Virus cases. This CDC reports that as of August 22, 2012, there have been 1,221 reported cases of human West Nile Virus, with 43 deaths reported. The most susceptible to falling victim of the virus are adults, especially older adults or those with immune compromised disorders.

While the number of deaths may not seem significant compared to prior years, it’s the fact that there have been so many deaths so early in the year. Typically death rates from the West Nile Virus increase because of it’s long incubation period, which may last up to 3 weeks.

The states reporting the largest amount of case are Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Alabama and South Dakota. Nineteen deaths from WNV (West Nile Virus) have occured in Texas.

Last month, the WNV took the life of a mother of 4 near Houston, Texas. A pregnant woman who contracts WNV runs the risk of passing the virus onto her unborn baby.

But how common is the virus and should you keep your kids indoors until first freeze?

The CDC cautions people to remain calm since the risk of becoming ill from a mosquito bite is still quite rare. According to USA Today, of those who develop a fever from the WNV, only 1% get full blown WNV. And of the people who get infected, only 10% of them will die.

For privacy reasons,  the CDC has not yet reported the ages of the victims of WNV this year, a 2009 CDC report, however, reveals that almost 1,500 cases of WNV were seen across the U.S. in children between 1999 – 2007. Only 1 in 3 children who contracted WNV actually came down with the full blown version. Most WVN symptoms are mild and feel similar to cold-like symptoms whereas full blown WNV, you can suffer from brain swelling and death. Three children died over the course of 8 years in which the data was made public.

Statistically speaking, it is much less likely for children to become ill from the WNV than it is for adults.

So how do you protect your family from the WNV?

A non-profit website about teh WNV champions the use of insecticides and the use of bug repellents containing DEET to combat the risk. Dr. Donald Roberts, professor of tropical public health, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences says this about insecticide opponents and naysayers, “Contrary to the environmentalist view, public health campaigns that use insecticides against diseases have a remarkable record of public safety and a a remarkable record of protecting humans from insect-borne diseases.”

The CDC also recommends eliminating sources of standing water outside the home where mosquitoes can lay eggs.