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The Reason Behind West Nile’s Appearance [AUDIO]

Cases of West Nile Virus are on the rise throughout the United States. In the Garden State alone there have been fifteen confirmed cases of the virus afflicting people, one of which resulted in the death of a Burlington County man. So why is the virus making so much noise this late into the summer?

Justin Sullivan, Getty Images

Robert Kent, Administrator of the Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Mosquito Control Coordination says the age of insects is one of the factors for the spread of West Nile.

“We’re dealing with an old mosquito population that’s been flying for a great portion of the summer, and this gives West Nile Virus the opportunity to accumulate in the mosquito population. And as the mosquitoes continue to feed on birds the virus is amplified.”

Once a mosquito takes blood from a bird infected with West Nile, it’s able to metabolize the virus into something that is transferable and could be spread through other blood meals (humans).

“From our stepped up surveillance it’s suggesting that one in ten mosquitoes might be positive for West Nile Virus.”

While it may sound scary Kent says compared to the average seasonal flu West Nile’s affects aren’t as prevalent. He notes symptoms don’t appear in everyone.

“Well believe it or not about 80% of the people who have West Nile Virus don’t know they have it. There’s no symptoms whatsoever, but of the remaining 20 percent it could be quite severe.”

Kent says those who do experience symptoms could have anything from a mild fever and headache, all the way to serious symptoms such as extreme fever, paralysis and neuro-invasive symptoms. Kent points out though it’s usually the very young and very old who are vulnerable to West Nile, they have had middle age and young adult individuals who fell ill.

He suggests anyone who suspects they have symptoms, contact their physician who will decide if samples should be sent to Trenton for testing.

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