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West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus

 
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West Nile Worriers Crowd ER's

Updated: Friday, September 7 2012, 12:54 PM CDT

New numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show a record number of cases of a deadly virus carried by mosquitoes. On Wednesday, we learned the West Nile virus is hitting Texas harder than anywhere else in the country. New numbers from the CDC show there are more than a thousand cases in the lone star state, with 40 deaths, nine more than last week.

Oklahoma, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi and South Dakota have also been hit hard, but their cases number around a hundred. The spike in cases has more people heading to emergency rooms, thinking they have the virus.

With it still spreading, reacting to a simple mosquito bite can be a bit more worrisome.

“You get these rare presentations with fatal illnesses without treatment and it would scare me too,” said Dr. T.J. Milling about why emergency rooms are filling up with West Nile worriers.

Dr. Milling, who works at the University Medical Center at Brackenridge ER, said West Nile anxiety can take away from real emergencies at hospitals.

“You overstress your emergency system with a bunch of mild illness and it's harder to take care of heart attack and strokes and serious things that happen in the ER,” he explained.

To find out when people should head to the emergency room, we went to Dr. Brian Metzger at St. David’s Medical Center. Dr. Metzger said he just finished treating his second case of the rarest and most deadly form of West Nile, when the virus invades the brain. This happens to less than one percent of people infected.

“It’s inflammation of the brain that causes confusion, inability to stand or walk, weakness in the limbs and that person needs to come in,” explained Dr. Metzger.

But if you're only experiencing flu like symptoms, like swollen lymph glands, fever and body aches, you may be a part of the 20 percent of people who develop symptoms after contracting West Nile. There's just not much these doctors can do. They said to come see them, if you also develop an altered mental state, neck stiffness or muscle weakness.

If you insist on being tested for West Nile, it's not as easy as getting tested for the flu. You need to supply a blood sample that takes about a week to get results. West Nile Worriers Crowd ER's


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Web Poll

A new West Nile web poll will be posted soon.

Are you concerned about the West Nile Virus?

Yes, I'm concerned.
No, I'm not worried.

Poll Results

80.95% Yes, I'm concerned.
19.04% No, I'm not worried.

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