West Nile Provides an Engagement Opportunity for Physicians

Preventing mosquito bites is one of the best ways to avoid West Nile.

Certain health issues only occur at a particular time of year. Because it's summer, cases of West Nile virus are cropping up around the country. Two people have died from it in California, according to Breitbart News.

Humans and animals get West Nile virus from the bite of a mosquito that carries it. Most people will not show any symptoms after being bitten. While the risk of developing a serious illness is low, a small percentage of people can develop neurological complications, such as encephalitis or meningitis. These conditions can sometimes be fatal. The risks are higher for individuals over the age of 50 and people with diabetes or hypertension.

Although most cases are asymptomatic, people can develop less severe symptoms such as fever, body aches, headaches, rashes or swollen lymph nodes, Indiana-based Fox 59 reported.

West Nile virus is often found in birds. In California, 1,123 dead birds have tested positive for West Nile in 2014. At this time last year, there were only 584 positive tests, Breitbart News stated.

Doctors Should Emphasize West Nile Prevention
While most infected individuals will only experience a mild form of the illness, the risks are very high for those with preexisting conditions. Physicians' practices can communicate with their patients about these issues and the steps that can be taken to prevent illness. There is no direct treatment for West Nile, but patients will need to seek care if the more serious complications arise. There is no human vaccine for the virus, so preventing mosquito bites during the summer is crucial for avoiding the illness, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Because people with kidney problems, cancer, diabetes or other conditions are at a much greater risk from serious illness, healthcare providers should educate their patients on the risks to ensure they stay healthy during the summer. These efforts can boost patient retention efforts and can encourage people to visit a physician's practice if they experience some of the less severe symptoms.

Physicians may need to think slightly out of the box to engage with patients about the issue of West Nile virus. One of the best ways to prevent infections is minimizing mosquitos. Because the insects tend to lay eggs in standing water, doctors can use their marketing efforts to educate people about eliminating any sources of still water in their yards and using mosquito repellent at dusk.

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