Communicable Diseases

Communicable diseases, also known as infectious diseases, are illnesses that spread from one person to another, an animal to a person, or from a surface or a food. 

Chickenpox / Shingles (Varicella-Zoster Virus)


Chickenpox is a highly contagious disease caused by the varicella-zoster virus (VZV). It can cause an itchy, blister-like rash that first appears on the chest, back, and face, then spreads over the entire body. Chickenpox is usually mild but can be serious and even life-threatening in babies, adolescents, adults, people who are pregnant, and people with weakened immune systems.

Symptoms

  • itchy rash of blisters
  • fever
  • headache
  • feeling tired

Symptoms usually last a week. In some cases, chickenpox can lead to skin infections, dehydration, pneumonia, encephalitis, and rarely death.

How does it spread?

Chickenpox spreads easily from people who are infected with it to others who have never had the disease or have never been vaccinated. It can also spread from people with shingles. It can spread 1 to 2 days before the infected person has symptoms. It doesn't stop spreading until all of the blisters have formed scabs.

Prevention

Two doses of the chickenpox vaccine are recommended for children by doctors as the best way to protect against chickenpox. The first dose should be given when a child is 12-15 months and the second dose should be given when the child is between the ages of 4-6 years. Older children or adolescents who have not been vaccinated should also receive two doses of the vaccine.

(source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

COVID-19

COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) is a disease caused by a virus named SARS-CoV-2. It can be very contagious and spreads quickly. Over one million people have died from COVID-19 in the United States.

COVID-19 most often causes respiratory symptoms that can feel much like a cold, the flu, or pneumonia. COVID-19 may attack more than your lungs and respiratory system. Other parts of your body may also be affected by the disease. Most people with COVID-19 have mild symptoms, but some people become severely ill.

Some people including those with minor or no symptoms will develop Post-COVID Conditions – also called “Long COVID.”

Transmission

COVID-19 spreads when an infected person breathes out droplets and very small particles that contain the virus. Other people can breathe in these droplets and particles, or these droplets and particles can land on their eyes, nose, or mouth. In some circumstances, these droplets may contaminate surfaces they touch. Anyone infected with COVID-19 can spread it, even if they do NOT have symptoms.

The risk of animals spreading the virus that causes COVID-19 to people is low. The virus can spread from people to animals during close contact. People with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should avoid contact with animals.

Signs & Symptoms

People with COVID-19 have experienced a wide range of symptoms -ranging from mild to severe that may appear 2-14 days after exposure. Some don't experience symptoms at all. Possible symptoms include:

  • Fever or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Prevention

  • Stay up to date with your COVID-19 vaccine
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth
  • Cover your cough
  • Avoid crowded places and close contact with anyone who's sick
  • Wear a mask when necessary
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell
  • Contact your doctor if you believe you have been exposed

(source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Ebola

Ebola disease is caused by an infection with one of a group of viruses, known as ebolaviruses, that are found primarily in sub-Saharan Africa. Although Ebola disease is rare, people can get the disease through contact with an infected animal (bat or nonhuman primate) or a sick or dead person infected with an ebolavirus. 

Transmission

Ebolaviruses can be spread through contact (such as through broken skin or mucous membranes in the eyes, nose, or mouth) with:

  • blood or body fluids (urine, saliva, sweat, feces, vomit, breast milk, amniotic fluid, and semen) of a person who is sick with or died from Ebola disease
  • Objects (clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment) contaminated with body fluids from a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola disease
  • Infected fruit bats or nonhuman primates (such as apes and monkeys)
  • Semen from a man who recovered from Ebola disease (through oral, vaginal or anal sex)

Who is at risk?

Health workers and family members who do not use proper infection control while caring for patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola disease are at the highest risk of getting sick.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear anywhere from 2 to 21 days after contact with an ebolavirus. The course of the illness progresses from "dry" symptoms such as fever, aches, pains, and fatigue to "wet" symptoms such as diarrhea and vomiting as the person becomes sicker. 

Primary symptoms include:

  • fever
  • aches and pains (headaches, muscle pain, joint pain)
  • weakness and fatigue
  • sore throat
  • loss of appetite
  • gastrointestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, diarrhea, vomiting)
  • unexplained hemorrhaging, bleeding or bruising

Less common symptoms include red eyes, skin rash, and hiccups.

Prevention

When living in or traveling to a region where ebolaviruses are potentially present, there are several ways to protect yourself and prevent the spread of Ebola disease.

  • Avoid contact with blood and body fluids (such as urine, feces, saliva, sweat, vomit, breast milk, amniotic fluid, semen, and vaginal fluids) of people who are sick.
  • Avoid contact with semen from a man who has recovered from Ebola disease, until testing shows that the virus is gone from his semen.
  • Avoid contact with items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids (such as clothes, bedding, needles, and medical equipment).
  • Avoid funeral or burial practices that involve touching the body of someone who is suspected or confirmed to have had Ebola disease.
  • Avoid contact with bats, forest antelopes, nonhuman primates (such as monkeys and chimpanzees), and the blood, fluids, or raw meat prepared from these or unknown animals.

The Ebola vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV (called Ervebo)  is given as a single dose vaccine and has been found to be safe and protective against Ebola virus (species Zaire ebolavirus) only, which has caused the largest and most deadly Ebola outbreaks to date. This is the first FDA-approved vaccine for an ebolavirus. For more information visit: https://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/clinicians/vaccine/index.html

(source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). 

Transmission

Hepatitis B is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. This can happen through:

  • sexual contact
  • sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment
  • during pregnancy or delivery

Signs & Symptoms

Some people newly infected with Hepatitis B are asymptomatic. Those who do have symptoms can experience:

  • fatigue
  • poor appetite
  • stomach pain
  • nausea
  • jaundice

Prevention

The best way to prevent Hepatitis B is to get vaccinated. All adults aged 18-59 should receive the vaccine. The CDC recommends all adults 18 years and older get screened for Hepatitis B at least once in their lifetime. 

(source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Hepatitis C

Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).

Transmission

Hepatitis C is spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Most people become infected with the virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs. For some, it is a short-term illness but for more than half of those infected, it becomes a long-term chronic infection and can result in serious life-threatening health problems such as liver cancer.

Signs & Symptoms

People infected with chronic Hepatitis C can often have no symptoms. When symptoms appear, it is generally a sign of advanced liver disease.

Prevention

There is no vaccine for Hepatitis C so the best way to prevent it is to avoid behaviors that can lead to infection such as injecting drugs. Getting tested is important because treatments can cure most infections in 8 to 12 weeks!


(source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

HIV / AIDS

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) is a virus that attacks the body's immune system. If left untreated, it can lead to AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).  There is currently no effective cure. Once a person is infected with HIV, they have it for life. With proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. People with HIV can live long, healthy lives and protect their partners from becoming infected.

Transmission

HIV is carried in semen, vaginal fluids, anal mucus, blood, and breast milk. Most people who contract the virus get it through anal or vaginal sex or by sharing needles or syringes. 

HIV can be spread by:

  • having vaginal or anal sex
  • sharing needles or syringes for injecting drugs, piercings, tattoos, etc
  • getting stuck with a needle that has HIV-infected blood on it
  • getting HIV-infected blood, semen, or vaginal fluids into open cuts or sores on your body

Signs & Symptoms

Most people experience flu-like symptoms within 2-4 weeks after infection. Some people have no symptoms at all. The only way to know if you have HIV is to get tested. 


Stages of HIV

When people infected with HIV don't get treatment, they progress through three stages. Treatment for HIV can slow or prevent progression of the disease.

  • Stage 1: Acute HIV Infection
    • people have a large amount of the virus in their blood and are very contagious
    • many people experience flu-like symptoms during this stage
    • if you have flu-like symptoms and think you have been exposed to HIV, get tested
  • Stage 2: Chronic HIV Infection
    • this stage is also known as asymptomatic HIV infection or clinical latency
    • the virus is still active and continues to replicate in the body
    • people may not have symptoms but can still pass the virus to others
    • people who take HIV treatment as prescribed may never move to stage 3 (AIDS)
    • without treatment, this stage may last a decade or longer. At the end of this stage, the amount of HIV in the blood goes up and the person may move to stage 3.
  • Stage 3: AIDS
    • this is the most severe stage of HIV infection
    • people with AIDS can have high viral loads and easily transmit HIV to others
    • people with AIDS have badly damaged immune systems, leading to opportunistic infections and serious illness
    • without HIV treatment, people with AIDS typically only survive about 3 years


Prevention

  • abstinence (not having sex)
  • never sharing needles
  • using condoms 
  • Use HIV prevention medications such as pre-exposure prophylais (PrEP) and post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) if your partner has HIV

Use the HIV Risk Reduction Tool

Get Tested


To find a testing center near you, click here.

(source: HIVcare.org)

Influenza/Flu

Flu is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses that infect the nose, throat, and sometimes the lungs.

Transmission

Flu viruses mainly spread through tiny droplets made when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks and lands in the mouths or noses of people nearby. It can also be transmitted by touching a contaminated surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes. 

Signs & Symptoms

Flu can cause mild to severe illness and at times lead to death. Symptoms usually begin suddenly and often include:

  • fever or chills
  • cough
  • sore throat
  • runny or stuffy nose
  • muscle or body aches
  • headaches
  • fatigue
  • vomiting and diarrhea (more common in children)

Prevention                Done Editing            

The best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu and its potentially serious complications is to get vaccinated each year. Good health habits like avoiding people who are sick and washing hands often can stop the spread of germs and prevent respiratory illnesses such as the flu.  

Flu Vaccines

Flu vaccine appointments are available with our Public Health Nurse, Claudette Murdock to schedule. Keep an eye out for flyers & emails regarding special flu vaccine events! 


Mpox (Monkeypox)

Mpox is a rare disease caused by infection with the monkeypox virus that can affect anyone. The virus can cause flu-like symptoms, swollen lymph nodes, and a rash that often begins on the face and spreads to other parts of the body. MPX does not spread easily to people without close contact. At this time, cases of monkeypox are relatively rare in the United States. People who think they may have been exposed to monkeypox or who have symptoms of monkeypox should consult with a healthcare provider. (NJDOH)

The New Jersey Department of Health is working in conjunction with CDC and local health departments, to quickly identify monkeypox cases and close contacts, provide treatment and vaccine, and further prevent the spread of the disease. CDC is working with state and local health officials to monitor probable and confirmed cases within the country.

View the State of New Jersey Department of Health website to find out where you can get the Mpox Vaccine. 
Visit the Johns Hopkis Medicine for more Mpox information

Mumps

Mumps is a contagious disease that affects the salivary glands caused by a paramyxovirus (member of the Rubulavirus family). It is easily preventable by a vaccine.

Transmission

Mumps spread through direct contact with saliva or respiratory droplets from the mouth, nose, or throat. An infected person can spread the virus by: 

  • coughing, sneezing, or talking
  • sharing items that may have saliva on them
  • participating in close-contact activities with others such as playing sports, dancing, or kissing

An infected person can be contagious days before they show symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms

The most common symptom associated with mumps are puffy cheeks and a tender, swollen jaw. Other symptoms can include: 

  • fever
  • headaches
  • muscle aches
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite

Symptoms generally appear 16-18 days after infection. Most people with mumps recover within two weeks.

Prevention

The mumps vaccine is the best way to decrease your child's risk of getting mumps.  It is often given as part of a combination vaccine that protects against measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR). Children should get two doses of the MMR vaccine. The first dose should be given when the child is 12-15 months old and the second dose should be given at 4-6 years old.

(source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)

Pink Eye (Conjunctivitis)

Pink eye is a common eye infection that causes inflammation of the tissues lining the eyelid. It's caused by allergens, bacteria, and viruses.

Transmission

Several viruses and bacteria can cause pink eye. Each of these types of germs can spread from person to person in different ways. They usually spread from an infected person to others through:

  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • The air by coughing and sneezing
  • Touching an object or surface with germs on it, then touching your eyes before washing your hands

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pink or red color in the white of the eye(s)
  • Swelling of the conjunctiva (the thin layer that lines the white part of the eye and the inside of the eyelid) and/or eyelids
  • Increased tear production
  • Feeling like a foreign body is in the eye(s) or an urge to rub the eye(s)
  • Itching, irritation, and/or burning
  • Discharge (pus or mucus)
  • Crusting of eyelids or lashes, especially in the morning
  • Contact lenses that feel uncomfortable and/or do not stay in place on the eye

Prevention

If you or your child has bacterial or viral pink eye, your healthcare provider may recommend staying home from work, school or daycare until you’re no longer contagious. Check with your healthcare provider to find out how long that may be. You’re usually less likely to spread the infection if you’ve been on antibiotics for 24 hours or no longer have symptoms.

Following good general hygiene and eye care practices can also help prevent the spread of pink eye.

  • Don’t touch or rub the infected eye(s).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water.
  • Wash any discharge from your eyes twice a day using a fresh cotton ball. Throw away the cotton ball and wash your hands with soap and warm water afterward.
  • Wash your hands after applying eye drops or ointment to your eye or someone else’s eye.
  • Don’t share personal items such as makeup, contact lenses, towels or cups.

(source: Cleveland Clinic)

Pertussis (Whooping Cough)

Whooping cough is a highly contagious respiratory illness caused by a bacteria called Bordetella pertussis that can be very serious, especially for infants.

Transmission

The bacteria causing whooping cough can spread easily from person to person through the air. If an infected person sneezes, coughs, or breaths near a person, it can infect them.

Signs & Symptoms

Whooping cough often starts off like a common cold but can last for weeks or months. 

Early symptoms include: 

  • runny or stuffed-up nose
  • low-grade fever
  • mild, occasional cough
  • life-threatening pauses in breathing (apnea)
  • turning blue or purple (cyanosis)

Later symptoms include uncontrollable coughing fits that lead to a high-pitched "whoop" sound, vomiting, lethargy, and difficulty breathing.

Prevention


Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself and loved ones from whooping cough. There are two vaccines in the US that help prevent whooping cough: DTaP and Tdap.  Those who are exposed to whooping cough may be eligible for preventative antibiotics and should talk to their doctor.

Practicing good hygiene can help prevent the spread of the bacteria. 

  • cover your cough or sneeze
  • wash your hands often 

(source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Rabies

Rabies is a fatal viral disease that attacks the nervous system. In the United States, rabies is most often seen in raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats. Other mammals including dogs, cats, ferrets, and farm animals can get rabies if they are not vaccinated. Rabbits and small rodents including squirrels, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, chipmunks, rats, and mice are almost never found to be infected with rabies. Woodchucks, also known as groundhogs, account for most cases of rabies in rodents.

Transmission

Rabies is usually spread to humans through the bite of a rabid animal. Other potential exposures include getting saliva or other infectious material (such as brain tissue) from a rabid animal into an open wound or in the eyes, nose, or mouth. Petting a rabid animal or contact with the blood, urine, or feces of a rabid animal will not spread rabies. Many recent human rabies cases in the United States have been associated with rabid bats. Although people usually know when they have been bitten by a bat, bats have small teeth that may not leave marks on the skin. Therefore, treatment for rabies should also be considered when a bat is present and one cannot reasonably rule out an exposure (e.g., a sleeping person awakens to find a bat in the room or an adult witnesses a bat in the room with a previously unattended child or mentally disabled or intoxicated person).

Signs & Symptoms

The rabies virus infects the brain and spinal cord of animals and humans. Rabies in animals causes changes in behavior and paralysis. Animals may become very aggressive or unusually friendly. Paralysis of the muscles of the throat and jaw may cause drooling. Seizures are common. In humans, the virus causes fever, headaches, abnormal sensations, confusion, spasms of the throat muscles, hydrophobia (fear of water), and seizures. The disease rapidly progresses to paralysis, coma, and death. Rabies is almost always fatal.






















If you are bitten by or otherwise exposed to a potentially rabid animal, you should:

  • If it is a wild animal, try to trap or kill it without damaging its head and without risking further exposure
  • If it is an owned animal, get the animal owner's name, address, and telephone number
  • Immediately wash the wound well with soap and water
  • Get prompt medical attention
  • Report the incident to your local animal control agency, health department, or police

Prevention

Rabies can be prevented by getting rabies shots given soon after exposure. 

Exposure to rabies can be prevented:

  • Do not approach, handle, or feed wild or stray animals
  • Vaccinate your dogs, cats, and ferrets against rabies and keep the vaccinations up-to-date
  • Do not leave pets outside unattended or allow them to roam free
  • Feed pets indoors and tightly cover outdoor garbage cans
  • Teach children never to approach wild animals or animals that they do not know
  • Prevent bats from entering your home by using window screens and chimney caps and by closing any openings in your attic, basement, porch, or garage
  • Wear gloves when handling your pet if it has been in a fight with another animal; isolate it from people and other animals and call your veterinarian or local health department

Tick-Borne Disease

Tick-borne diseases are transmitted through the bite of an infected tick. These include Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, Ehrlichiosis, Babesiosis, Powassan (POW), Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, and Tularemia. Ticks can be infected with bacteria, viruses, or parasites.

Transmission

Ticks feed on small wild rodents, deer, pets, and humans. When a tick becomes infected and continues to feed on various hosts, the bacteria, virus, or parasite can be transmitted. Ticks that are located in the brush and on tall grasses come into contact with humans as we pass through these environments. The ticks can then crawl up sleeves and bite the skin, typically around warm areas under the hair.

Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis, and Babesiosis are spread by the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis). Ehrlichiosis is spread by the Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum). Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever is spread by the American Dog Tick (Dercacentor variabilis), Rocky Mountain Wood Tick (Dermacentor andersoni), Lone Star tick (Amblyomma americanum), and Brown Dog tick (Rhipicephalus sanguineus).   Powassan virus is spread by the Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis), Ixodes cookie, and Ixodes marxi.  Ixodes cookei and Ixodes marxi rarely bite humans.

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms may appear as early as a few days after being bitten, as late as a few months later, or not at all. The type and severity of symptoms vary with the specific disease, but common symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • body/muscle aches
  • joint pain
  • fever
  • rash
  • stiff neck
  • facial paralysis

Early diagnosis is helpful in successfully treating tick-borne diseases, so it is important to contact your healthcare provider if you are experiencing symptoms.

Tick Removal

To remove an attached tick:

  1. grasp with tweezers or forceps as close as possible to attachment (skin) site
  2. pull upward and out with a firm and steady pressure. 

    [If tweezers are not available, use fingers shielded with tissue paper or rubber gloves. Do not handle with bare hands. Be careful not to squeeze, crush or puncture the body of the tick which may contain infectious fluids.]

  3. After removing the tick, thoroughly disinfect the bite site and wash hands. 
  4. See or call a physician if there is concern about incomplete tick removal. It is important that a tick be removed as soon as it is discovered. 
  5. Check after every two or three hours of outdoor activity for ticks attached to clothing or skin.

Tickremovalrectangle2

Prevention

Be aware and know where and when to expect ticks outside

Where: ticks are common in areas with trees, shrubs, tall grass, rocks, logs, and fallen leaves. They thrive in fields, woods, and backyards.
When:  tick season in NJ typically begins at the end of spring and beginning to mid-summer. Generally, ticks start emerging in May, June, and July.

  • Dress for protection
    • wear a long-sleeved shirt and long pants to cover your skin and provide a barrier against ticks
    • wear light-colored clothes to help you spot any ticks that might be crawling on you
    • consider wearing clothes that are pre-treated with permethrin
  • Apply tick repellent
  • Check for ticks on your clothes and body - check your pets too!
  • Put clothes in dryer (without washing) for 10 minutes to kill any ticks that may be on your clothes
  • Shower

(source: NJDOH)

Tuberculosis (TB)

Tuberculosis (TB) is an infectious disease that affects the lungs and other parts of the body caused by the bacteria called Myobacterium tuberculosis. 

Transmission

TB bacteria can be transmitted through the air from one person to another. When a person infected with TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, speaks, or breathes near another person who breathes it in, they can become infected. When a person breathes in TB bacteria, it can settle in the lungs and begin to grow before spreading through the blood to other parts of the body. 

tuberculosis-risk-factors-causes-and-prevention-722x406

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of TB depend on where in the body the bacteria are growing. TB bacteria usually grow in the lungs. TB disease in the lungs may cause symptoms such as

  • a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks+
  • pain in the chest
  • coughing up blood or sputum (phlegm from deep inside the lungs)

Other symptoms of TB disease are

  • fatigue and/or weakness
  • weight loss
  • loss of appetite
  • chills
  • fever
  • night sweats

Symptoms of TB disease in other parts of the body depend on the area affected. People who have latent TB infection do not feel sick, do not have any symptoms, and cannot spread TB to others.

Prevention

  • good ventilation: as TB can remain suspended in the air for several hours with no ventilation.
  • natural light: UV light kills off TB bacteria.
  • good hygiene: covering the mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing reduces the spread of TB bacteria.

(source: World Health Organization)

Viral Hepatitis

Hepatitis means inflammation of the liver. The liver is a vital organ that processes nutrients, filters the blood, and fights infections. When the liver is inflamed or damaged, its function can be affected. Heavy alcohol use, toxins, some medications, and certain medical conditions can cause hepatitis. However, hepatitis is often caused by a virus. In the United States, the most common types of viral hepatitis are hepatitis A, B, and C.

abcs_hep-1-1037x1200

Transmission

Hepatitis A virus is spread when someone ingests the virus through close, personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food/drink. 

Hepatitis B virus is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids from an infected person enters the body of someone who isn't infected. This can be spread by: an infected person giving birth, sex with an infected person, sharing needles or syringes, sharing personal items (toothbrushes, razors), direct contact with blood or open sores of an infected person, poor infection control in health care facilities.

Hepatitis C is spread when blood from an infected person enters the body of someone not infected. It can also be spread by sharing needles or syringes, poor infection control in health care facilities, sexual contact with an infected person, or when an infected person giving birth.

Signs & Symptoms

Many people with hepatitis do not have symptoms and do not know they are infected. If symptoms occur with an acute infection, they can appear anytime from 2 weeks to 6 months after exposure. Symptoms of acute hepatitis can include fever, fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, dark urine, light-colored stools, joint pain, and jaundice. Symptoms of chronic viral hepatitis can take decades to develop.

Prevention

  • Get the vaccines for hepatitis A and hepatitis B.
  • Use a condom during sex.
  • Don't share needles to take drugs.
  • Practice good personal hygiene such as thorough hand-washing with soap and water.
  • Don't use an infected person's personal items.

(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus infection can cause serious disease. WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall. This fact sheet contains important information that can help you recognize and prevent West Nile virus.

Transmission

  • Infected Mosquitoes. WNV is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite. 
  • Transfusions, Transplants, and Mother-to-Child. In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread directly from an infected person through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding and during pregnancy from mother to baby. 
  • Not through touching. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus

Signs & Symptoms

  • Serious Symptoms in a Few People. About 1 in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent. 
  • Milder Symptoms in Some People. Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected will have symptoms which can include fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days to as long as several weeks. 
  • No Symptoms in Most People. Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all, but there is no way to know in advance if you will develop an illness or not. 

Prevention

The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. 

  • When outdoors, use repellents containing DEET, picaridin, IR3535, some oil of lemon eucalyptus or paramenthane-diol. Follow the directions on the package. 
  • Many mosquitoes are most active from dusk to dawn. Be sure to use insect repellent and wear long sleeves and pants at these times or consider staying indoors during these hours. 
  • Make sure you have good screens on your windows and doors to keep mosquitoes out. 
  • Get rid of mosquito breeding sites by emptying standing water from flower pots, buckets and barrels. Change the water in pet dishes and replace the water in bird baths weekly. Drill holes in tire swings so water drains out. Keep children’s wading pools empty and on their sides when they aren’t being used. 

MosquitoInfographicFINAL-full-size_vg32D5x.original
(Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & One Medical Group)