DNA testing reveals West Nile Virus, ways to protect yourself

DNA testing reveals West Nile Virus, ways to protect yourself

LUBBOCK, Texas - A mosquito captured by the City of Lubbock Health Department has tested positive for the potentially deadly West Nile Virus. It's technically a bird disease and can't be transmitted from person to person. 

"When a mosquito that is infected that feeds on a bird, also feeds on a human, that's how the humans become infected with the virus," Dr. Steven Peper, Texas Tech Senior Research Associate said.

Each year, Vector Control places mosquito traps throughout the county. A Texas Tech lab then tests the mosquitoes for the disease. 

"You have female mosquitoes, you put them in a tube, and we grind them up and try to break up the cells and all of that so then we can pull out any RNA that's within the mosquito," Dr. Peper said.

From there, an extraction process pulls out some of its genetic material and a mixture turns it into DNA. That's how the doctors identify it. 

"We see West Nile almost every year in Lubbock," Dr. Peper said.

Anyone can get the West Nile Virus, but age can put you more at risk.

"The clinical manifestations is more severe in the really young or the older population or those that are immunocompromised," Dr. Peper said.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus include headache, fever, muscle and join aches, nausea, and fatigue.

"If you get the neuroinvasive disease, a lot of those symptoms will stay with you for life. There is a potential for death," Dr. Peper said.

To avoid mosquito bites, there are four "D's" to remember:

1. Avoid going outside during Dusk and Dawn

2. Use Deet

3. Dress in long sleeves and pants

4. Drain and Dump any standing water

There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent the West Nile Virus infection. If you suffer from any of these symptoms, immediately go to a doctor.

 

 

 

 

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