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West Nile Virus, Research Paper Example

Pages: 1

Words: 1002

Research Paper

Introduction

West Nile Virus is a complex disease that is found in mosquitoes who have bitten infected birds and then pass the virus on to humans through bites, whereby transmission through human blood is achieved and may cause some of the more typical symptoms (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). The virus will replicate in humans and potentially lead to illness under some conditions; however, there is a very small number of mosquitoes that are infected with the virus to begin with and transmission to human beings, although very serious, is relatively low (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). Those persons at the highest risk are over the age of 50 and those who live in areas where the virus is present in the mosquito population (Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2013). For many years, the virus was located in areas such as Australia and Southeast Asia, but the virus invaded the United States in 1999 (Pennsylvania Department of Health, 2013).

Body

West Nile Virus also infects other types of animals in the environment in addition to birds, such as cats, horses, chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits; therefore, any mosquito that obtains the virus by biting these infected animals may pass it onto human beings (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). However, there have been no documented cases to date of the virus being transmitted from one human being to another or from an animal to a human being, as mosquitoes are the primary carriers of the virus (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). From an environmental point of view, West Nile Virus appears to be transmitted primarily during the late summer months when humidity and mosquito counts are high (Brown et.al, 2008). Infected mosquitoes known as Cx. pipiens are typically located around standing water and in artificial containers that hold water (Brown et.al, 2008). Therefore, it is important to recognize these areas as primary breeding grounds for mosquitoes that have acquired the virus from infected birds or other animals (Brown et.al, 2008). When human beings reside near these locations for long periods of time, they face a greater risk of infection when these mosquitoes are also present in these same locations (Brown et.al, 2008).

Many people who are infected with West Nile Virus have no symptoms; however, when they do occur, the most common symptoms include fever, fatigue, headache, and pain (Mayo Clinic, 2013). In addition, for approximately one percent of those patients who are infected, severe neurological deficits occur that may lead to paralysis and even death (Mayo Clinic, 2013). Unfortunately, there is no real treatment for West Nile Virus, and the most common recommendations include over the counter pain medications for less severe symptoms (Mayo Clinic, 2013). Common diagnostic tests may include blood testing to determine if West Nile antibodies are present, lumbar punctures to identify spinal fluid that may indicate infection, and the electroencephalography (ECG) for patients with more severe cases where brain infection is suspected (Mayo Clinic, 2013).

Attempts to break the transmission chain of West Nile Virus are typically achieved through the use of mosquito control techniques, such as allowing stagnant water to form for mosquitoes to feed and reproduce; therefore, by removing the “wigglers” as they form in the bowl, the cycle of reproduction and transmission is terminated and no additional replication of the virus can occur (Crissey, 2012). This practice is simple, cost effective, and also demonstrates a commitment to preserving the honey bee population at the same time, as well as reducing the risk to human beings exposed to stagnant water supplies (Crissey, 2012). By breaking the reproduction cycle, mosquitoes can no longer replicate the West Nile Virus and pass it on to human beings (Crissey, 2012).

The development of a successful approach to managing West Nile Virus from a nursing-based perspective requires an effective understanding of the virus and its impact on the human population. Although the risk of viral transmission remains relatively low, it is important to recognize that nursing intervention techniques may play an important role in reducing these risks and in determining how to manage those patients who are infected with the virus and who seek treatment. First and foremost, nurses play a critical role in diagnosis because they are trained in how to identify the disease and its typical symptoms (Wood, 2013). Secondly, nurses must play a role in educating potential blood donors who might be suspected of having West Nile Virus because transmission of this virus through contaminated blood could be extremely dangerous and harmful to other patients (Wood, 2013). Finally, nurses must recognize symptoms that present as encephalitis or meningitis and order the appropriate tests in order to determine if West Nile Virus is the primary cause (Wood, 2013).

Conclusion

West Nile Virus is a disease that is spread by mosquitoes who have been infected with the virus by birds and other animals, thereby posing a risk to any human being who comes in contact with these mosquitoes (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). If a diagnosis is made, there are no current treatment methods that are available to treat this condition; however, most patients do not have any real symptoms and the condition should resolve on its own (Centers for Disease Control, 2012). In spite of these concerns, prevention of West Nile Virus is critical to reducing its spread and in supporting effective outcomes for all patients. In addition, nurses must play an active role in providing education within communities where there is a greater risk of West Nile Virus, in addition to recognizing the most prevalent symptoms and other indicators of the disease in human beings.

References

Brown, H.E., Childs, J.E., Diuk-Wasser, M.A., and Fish, D. (2008). Ecologic factors associated with West Nile Virus transmission, Northeastern United States. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 14(10), retrieved from http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/14/10/07-1396_article.htm

Centers for Disease Control (2012). West Nile Virus: questions & answers. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/transmission.htm

Crissey, B. (2012). Controlling West Nile Virus organically for free. Retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/controlling-west-nile-virus-organically-for-free

Mayo Clinic (2013). West Nile Virus. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/west-nile-virus/DS00438/DSECTION=tests-and-diagnosis

Pennsylvania Department of Health (2013). What is West Nile Virus? Retrieved from http://www.westnile.state.pa.us/health.htm

Wood, D. (2013). West Nile Virus sweeps across United States. Retrieved from http://nursezone.com/student-nurses/student-nurses-featured-articles/West-Nile-Virus-Sweeps-Across-United-States_19038.aspx

 

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