West Nile Virus Myths And Facts - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

West Nile Virus Myths And Facts

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ALEXANDRIA, La. - West Nile virus cases have been confirmed here in Cenla in the last couple of months, and we've now learned that this year has been the worst outbreak of the virus since 2004, but not every bite is created equally. News Channel 5's Nolan Crane shows us why some people have different reactions to mosquito bites.

We spoke with a doctor and an insect expert who say not every mosquito carries the West Nile virus and even if somebody gets bitten by the bug, the strength of your immune system depends of what type of reaction may take place.

Standing water is paradise for parasites and bugs like mosquitoes that lay their eggs and thrive in this kind of murky water. But just because you don't have a pond or bayou near your home, doesn't mean there aren't places the pests will find. Rain gutters can be a perfect breeding pool for mosquitoes.

"You can have standing water in there so when the mosquitoes lay eggs in the gutters the larvae will hatch out and they can survive in the gutters," says Julien Beuzelin.

Julien works at the LSU Ag Center where he studies mosquitoes and he says they are fascinating creatures--he says one common myth he wants to dispel, is that all mosquitoes carry West Nile.

"Only one kind of mosquitoes can transmit West Nile virus, so when you see mosquitoes out there, not all of them West Nile virus," says Julien Beuzelin.

This year alone, across the nation, there have already been more than 240 cases of West Nile and four deaths blamed on the virus. Two of those deaths were in Louisiana.

"There are varying degrees of severity, you know some people may wind up having it and never know and not have a terrible problem with it," says John Giroir.

For most people who get West Nile virus, the effects of the disease are not deadly, just painful.

"Symptoms would be the same for type of meningitis or encephalitis, headache, fever, confusion, neck pains, stiff neck, back pain," says John Giroir

If you want to increase your probability of not getting sick, you just have to follow the doctor's orders with these house cleaning tips.

"Get rid of standing water, you don't want to have any shallow pools with water sitting there. Those are how mosquitoes breed and it will make the mosquito population worse, you want to keep your grass trim," says John Giroir.

Julien says he enjoys studying these little creatures, but he says it's important that all of us have a healthy fear of what the tiny insect can do.

For more information about safety tips and symptoms of West Nile virus, you can visit http://new.dhh.louisiana.gov/index.cfm/page/539

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