West Nile Virus

Protect Yourself Against the West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus has reached Southern California. And, if you listen to the media reports, we are all doomed! So, I'd like to interject a little sanity into the discussion, in the form of cold, hard facts. I researched this information on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) web site, in my medical microbiology texts, and on a consumer-friendly informational site. The statistics are all from the CDC.

First, a little history: West Nile Virus first appeared in the US in 1999. It appeared on the East Coast in and around New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware and Maryland. By 2001, it had spread West as far as the states bordering the Mississippi river (an approximate description). It was nationwide by the year 2002. In 2003 (the latest year for which the CDC has data posted), there were human cases reported in every state except Maine (where only avian cases were found), Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii. In California, there were 3 cases, and no deaths. This figure is quite low, even though the virus had been detected in California for 2 years. The state with the highest incidence in 2003 was Colorado, with 2947 reported cases and 61 deaths. The second highest incidence occurred in Nebraska, with 1942 cases and 29 deaths.

The virus is passed from infected birds to humans (and other mammals) by the bite of an infected mosquito. The incubation period is 3 to 14 days. The other mammals that have shown infection include: horses, squirrels, cats, bats, chipmunks, squirrels and domestic rabbits. However, a mosquito cannot bite an infected mammal and pick up the disease. The virus only passes from birds to mammals in its infectious state. Also, you can't be infected by an infected person or animal, nor can you get sick from the body of a dead bird. You must be bitten by an infected mosquito. There is one case of transplacental (mother to fetus) transmission of the virus, but the data is unclear whether the fetus had other health problems that made it susceptible to the virus. And, a few laboratory technicians have contracted the virus from inadvertent needle sticks. So, the disease is not very infectious.

More importantly, very few of the people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become ill. Approximately 20% will develop West Nile Fever, a mild condition which lasts a few days with symptoms of mild fever, headache and body aches. In some case a skin rash develops over the trunk and the lymph glands are swollen. Approximately 1 in 150 people will develop the severe form of West Nile Virus, meningioencephalitis. The symptoms include high fever, severe headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, paralysis and coma. This illness lasts several weeks, requires hospitalization for supportive care and may leave permanent neurologic damage due to strokes. Those most at risk for the severe form of the disease are people over 50. Most deaths occur amongst the elderly. There is no data as yet on the risk to immuno-compromised people (HIV positive, transplant patients, etc.).

Once you have contracted the virus, even in its mildest form, you have immunity which is believed to be lifelong.

What frightens the public health community is that in the medical world there is no treatment for viral disease. They can only offer supportive care after the severe form of the disease manifests itself. All of the recommended health measures focus on mosquito control - an almost impossible task.

However, I have good news. The virus is an enveloped virus (i.e., it has a lipid coating). This makes it susceptible to St. John's Wort from Medi-Herb. I have been using this product for 2 years now with a variety of enveloped viruses (such as shingles and herpes) with great success. I've actually seen shingles begin to resolve within 48 hours, which is totally astounding!

If you are concerned about yourself or someone you love, for prevention I recommend a daily dose of 2 St. John's Wort in the morning for those in good health. For the elderly or frail, 1 tablet, 3 times a day is a better choice. I can only recommend the Medi-Herb product. I simply haven't seen this kind of anti-viral activity in over the counter preparations of St. John's Wort sold in the U.S.

If you want to get started on protecting yourself and your family from this virus, call the office before Friday to order a bottle. We place our supplement orders on Friday, and will have it in the office for you on Tuesday afternoon. A
40 tablet bottle is $15. And, the good news is that St. John's Wort protects against all enveloped viruses, including the flu virus.

One side note of importance: We now have an in-office answering machine. However, it doesn't always get messages from cell phones. So, if you haven't heard back from us, please call on a land line. Isn't technology wonderful?!

Does this apply to you? If so, see our information on Consultations.