By James Paladino (staff@latinospost.com) | First Posted: Aug 31, 2012 11:08 AM EDT


A man takes a nap inside a mosquito net by the roadside during an early morning in Noida (Photo : Reuters)

Recent research shows that West Nile Virus (WNV) has the potential to inflict ongoing health complications, including depression, tremors, headaches, fatigue, and memory issues. In 2012 alone, there have been 889 cases of neuroinvasive diseases resulting from WNV that will likely trigger these symptoms in half a year's time.

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The CDC reports that for one in 150 who carries WNV, serious illness can take hold, resulting in "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," the organization's site adds.

As of August 28, 48 states have reported WNV infections, resulting in 1,590 cases of the disease in people and 65 deaths. Over 70 percent of these instances where reported from Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Michigan. Texas ranked highest, as home of 45 percent of all WNV cases in 2012.

Dr. Paul Carson of MeritCare Health System recently co-authored a study detailing the long-term effects of the disease.

 "We are seeing patients coming back after having had West Nile fever saying they had ongoing problems. People would say things like 'I'm not myself, I'm more fatigued. I have more trouble with my memory,'" he states.

Carson and his team tested 49 patients about 13 months after they were diagnosed with a severe version of WNV. After testing patients for quality of life, neurological function, fatigue, and depression, they found that "there is a substantial amount of ongoing symptoms both among those patients diagnosed with West Nile fever as well as those with more severe diseases, encephalitis and meningitis."

ScienceDaily explains that "On a standardized test for overall general health, nearly half of patients scored low on the physical component and a third of patients scored low on the mental component. On the test for depression, one out of four scored in the range of moderate to severe. Eighty-four percent reported fatigue. Tremors were seen in 20 percent of patients."

With no vaccine or treatment available for WNV, the best offense is a good defense. Take preventative measures against the disease by draining standing water, using repellent, wearing long sleeves and pants at dusk and dawn, and placing/repairing screens on doors and windows.

Dr. Carson has hope that his "study will raise awareness that West Nile virus poses a substantial public health threat."

"We knew before that "We knew before that West Nile encephalitis was a serious health threat, but we didn't appreciate how much ongoing morbidity there is for West Nile fever, which is much more common. Hopefully, this may give greater impetus to increase resources for prevention--vector control and vaccine--and treatment development," he concludes.

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