Protecting your family from West Nile - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Protecting your family from West Nile

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West Nile can cause long-term detrimental brain effects. West Nile can cause long-term detrimental brain effects.
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

There is a reason so many doctors are afraid of viruses like West Nile. Dr. Ali A.M. Hassoun is an infectious disease specialist. "The main dangerous aspect of it is you can get meningitis, you can get paralysis," he said.

Dr. Hassoun said some may have long-term detrimental brain effects. Only about 37% of infected patients will completely recover.

And, he said, this virus is hard to treat. "These viruses are much smaller and have a lot of changes that are hard to target and kill the virus," said Dr. Hassoun.

There several medications for bacteria based infections, but not for viruses.

Hassoun recommends several things you can do to protect your family. "Mosquito repellents: the best one we have or know that will be effective is DEET." Repellent sprays should contain at least 30% DEET concentration.

Another barrier to the bug bites, Hassoun said, is mosquito eradication. "Eradicating the breeding sites and that includes the standing waters."

Another tip: when giving blood, be screened for exposure to West Nile.

Kids are a concern because summer time means play time. Sarah and Ephraim Cobb love to play outside on green grass, surrounded by the sights and sounds of summer. Their mom, Erin Cobb, knows there are some precautions to take. And that's good because this is also the time when parents need to be especially vigilant.

"I try to do my best when we're outside to just spray them when they let me, and even when they won't. Make sure they know it's important that not only do those bug bites hurt and itch, but mosquitoes can carry diseases that can make you sick," said Cobb.

There is also a big concern for pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems.

"The moment there is suspicion of West Nile, it's better to get more medical attention...to get at least supporting treatment for this," added Dr. Hassoun.

Support and prevention are key when it comes to West Nile Virus. Click here for more information from the Centers for Disease Control.

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