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Study Shows 1% of Americans Have Been Infected With West Nile
Date:9/9/2009

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"As WNV [West Nile virus] infections often remain asymptomatic, the antibody levels in individual lots of IGIV [immune globulinintravenous], which are each derived from the plasma donations of thousands of healthy individuals, can also be an important public health tool to determine how many people have experienced past WNV infections from a very large sample size," said study senior author Thomas Kreil, senior director of viral vaccines and global pathogen safety at Baxter Bioscience in Vienna, Austria.

"Also, the findings are important because they show that intravenous immunoglobulin contains antibodies to West Nile virus, possibly providing protection against WNV infection for patients who take IGIV, but this has not yet been shown in clinical studies," he added.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 3 million West Nile virus infections occurred between 1999 and 2008.

Despite its lowered visibility due to the new H1N1 swine flu, West Nile remains a public health threat. "It's true that we haven't talked about it as much, but it doesn't mean it's not going on," Alcaide said.

West Nile virus is normally passed from an infected mosquito to a bird, and then from the bird to other mosquitoes. The mosquitoes then pass the virus on to humans. Infections tend to peak in the summer.

Health officials recommend removing any standing water where mosquitoes are likely to breed. People should also wear insect repellant and long-sleeved clothing whenever outside.

In addition to the standard DEET-containing products, the CDC also endorses mosquito-repellent products containing oil of lemon eucalyptus and Picaridin.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on West Nile virus.



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