West Coast clinicians should prepare for West Nile, experts say

Seventeen states have reported cases of West Nile virus since 2023 began, according to CDC data. And while these have frequently occurred in the middle of the U.S. as well as in southern states, now, some experts are saying West Coast clinicians should prepare, CNN reported Aug. 3.

Arizona, Texas and South Dakota are the current hot spots in the U.S. reporting multiple cases of the virus with a combined total of 63 between them — largely due to Arizona's total of 49. 

While it is a common virus with thousands of cases reported each year, other evidence is signaling 2023 may not be a normal year. Experts look to birds to track the spread of West Nile, particularly in August when case counts tend to climb. In California this year, twice as many birds than expected have been killed by the virus and the virus' presence in mosquitos is also up, CNN reported. Weather conditions are also to blame for making the environment more suitable for mosquitos to thrive in. 

"In the absence of a vaccine, prevention of WNV disease depends on community-level mosquito control programs to reduce vector densities, personal protective measures to decrease exposure to infected mosquitoes, and screening of blood and organ donors," according to the CDC. 

The agency also recommends providers closely monitor any patient who may have contracted West Nile and also has encephalitis or poliomyelitis in case additional ventilatory support becomes necessary.

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