SOUTHFIELD (WWJ) – As a third death was report Michigan from West Nile, WWJ Newsradio 950 hosted live video webinar with two local doctors taking questions about the virus.
WWJ’s Pat Sweeting was joined in the studio by Dr. Jose Vasquez of Detroit’s Henry Ford Hospital and Dr. Christopher Carpenter or Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.
Here is some of the Q&A:
Q: Can a young, healthy person contract the West Nile Virus?
A: “Absolutely, anybody can develop West Nile Virus. But I think the important part to this is, yes we do have the potential, but 99 percent of the West Nile infections are either a-symptomatic or a flu-type syndrome, or may feel bad for a day or two with aches and pains and then it goes away.” - Dr. Vasquez
“The main group that we see and we focus on is the older population. It doesn’t mean that the younger population cannot get sick from this — it’s just that we are more likely to see more disease in the older population … they could also possible have lingering neurologic deficits that are long-term. So, for months to even years afterword they still may be affected by the infection they had.” - Dr. Carpenter
Q: Do I need to worry about my puppy contracting West Nile Virus?
A: “The pets can be infected. As a matter of fact … in 1999, 2000, 2001, when we were having those outbreaks, besides the pets a lot of the horses throughout the country actually died. And, as a matter of fact, the only vaccine we have available against West Nile is a horse vaccine … So, animals can certainly get it and one of the first signs we started picking up with the first outbreak was actually the deaths or birds … and that’s really where it begins. The host for the virus is actually the birds.” - Dr. Vasquez
Q: Are “itchier” mosquito bites a sign of West Nile, or can scratching my mosquito bites make it more likely I’ll develop West Nile?
A: “Your manifestation — the way that you react to the mosquito bite, we don’t think has any correlation to your likelihood of getting the West Nile infection. If you get a mosquito bite, and the mosquito has the infection in it and transmits it to you, how your react to he actual mosquito bite itself directly is not going to impact your likelihood of getting the infection … So, just because you’re scratching more, does that mean you’re more likely to get West Nile? No, that’s not the case … It’s still not a good idea to over-scratch them because it could lead to a secondary infection or other problems with your skin.” - Dr. Carpenter