Preventative Care For Moms….on

Moms (and Dads) are overworked, stressed, and care so much for others that they forget to do what they need for themselves.  Find out what you need to get checked out, and what you can hold off on at

Yours In Good Health


Lyme Disease: What you need to know

Lyme disease is a bacteria infection, Borrelia burgdorferi, which commonly spread through bites from tiny ticks, most commonly the deer tick in North America and Europe, as the deer ticks.  Living in areas with lots of tall grasses and woods puts you at high risk, even if those areas are by the ocean; many times people feel like ticks cannot live near the ocean…but they can, so you need to be careful even in tall marsh grasses. If caught early enough, lyme disease symptoms can be reversible, but it’s all about knowing the signs and symptoms, prevention, and early treatment that are key.

What are the signs of Lyme Disease?

Just like any other disease, unfortunately, sometimes the initial symptoms are completely silent, meaning many people don’t know they have been infected with the bacteria for a while. Immediately after a tick bite, you can see a red bump where you were bitten, and sometimes, over the next few days, redness spreads to look like a bull’s eye, but the deer tick usually needs to be attacked for 36-48 hours to spread Lyme Disease. When I was 21, I had a tick bite that was the classic bulls eye…and that was the only reason I went in for treatment! A few days after the bite and the infection starts to spread, you may feel some flu-like symptoms (fever, chills, body aches) that can go away.

a tick embedded with classic bulls eye rash

a tick embedded with classic bulls eye rash

Later on in the disease, you can get joint pain and swelling, without any other symptoms. Or, you can start to have some neurological symptoms such as numbness or weakness in  your arms and/or legs, a temporary paralysis of one side of your face (known as Bell’s palsy- which can be mistaken for a stroke.) You might also notice that you have extreme fatigue, a fast and/or irregular heart rate, redness/inflammation of your eyes, and you may be told that you liver enzymes are elevated from a hepatitis syndrome.

If you live in a heavily wooded area or around high grasses, and have any of these symptoms, even if they come and go, you should be seen by a Healthcare Practitioner (HCP.)

What is the treatment?

The good news is that Lyme disease is very easily treated, IF caught early, and usually a 14-21 day course of antibiotics can kill off the lyme bacteria and reverse all symptoms. Usually doxycycline or amoxicillin are used as the first line antibiotics; they are cheap and tolerated by most people when taken on a full stomach, however the doxycycline can cause pretty severe reactions in the sun, so stay out of the sun as much as possible during treatment! If you do not respond to oral drugs, you may have to go on a course of intravenous (IV) infusion drugs to get higher levels of antibiotics available to kill off the bacteria. IV antibiotics can be much more difficult to tolerate, as the side effects are stronger, and you have to be under the supervision of an HCP during treatment to ensure that your blood levels are stable.

There is alternative IV treatment with a drug called bismacine, however it is not supported by the FDA and can cause bismuth poisoning, as it has high levels of metals present which can cause liver and kidney dysfunction.

How do I prevent tick bites?

1. Wear long sleeves and long pants when in heavily wooded areas: I know, just what you want to do in the summer, but it prevents those ticks from latching onto your skin and biting you!

2. Insect repellent: yes, some people have issues with using chemicals (check out some alternative to chemical repellents!!)  however, they can be effective! Repellents with at least 20% DEET should be applied, according to directions, to adults and children alike (avoiding hands, face, and mouth!)

3. Check yourself and your children/animals regularly: When outside a lot, children and animals can play anywhere…and so can ticks, so make sure to check them and remove ticks with tweezers, right behind the head, and firmly pull off the skin, making sure that you have removed the entire tick, and then destroy it. (Sorry, I don’t mean to be harsh, but if it’s a ticks life over mine or my dogs, sorry tick!)

If you are worried you or a family member have been exposed, it is best to go get checked out and while the blood tests for Lyme are not always reliable, it is better to be treated early than to wait until you may have more exaggerated symptoms. Prevention is key when it comes to Lyme so be proactive for you and your family and stop Lyme Disease before to even starts!

Yours in Good Health


Tighten the Tackle or Leave it Alone?

It always fascinates me that some celebrities try a cosmetic “treatment” they seemly don’t have side effects, so they tout to everyone how great it is, and then a new trend is born. Some of the procedures that people undergo as forms of cosmetic treatments are pretty intense, and can have some major long-term side effects, so you really need to be aware of what can happen. As all of you know, I love to hop on trends that make your life easier, like laser hair removal, but I do think that we need to think about the procedures we want/get before we just jump into it. The latest trend in Hollywood?  Scrotal Ironing, AKA “tightening the tackle”, which was really brought into the spotlight by George Clooney a few weeks ago (and he won’t confirm whether he was being tongue in cheek or actually had the procedure). I have covered the scrotal shortening procedure, for those hanging low, but this is more a cosmetic procedure to tighten wrinkles….

What is Scrotal Ironing?

Basically, the scrotum is made of very thin skin, just like the skin under your eyes, which can become loosened over time, and scrotal ironing is similar to a face lift….just for down below.  By using a light laser treatment, the skin tones are evened, wrinkles are diminished, and hair is removed as well. The procedure itself takes around an hour (and you my need more than one session), with a cost around $575. The procedures have a small amount of pain associated with them, given the sensitive area and all, but numbing creams can be used to diminish the discomfort.  And after all your treatments, you can turn back the hands of time and have a wrinkle-free, hair free, and nicely toned scrotum….if that’s what you’re looking for in life, but it is not without side effects!

So Smooth, George!

So Smooth, George!

Are There Side Effects?

There are always side effects with every procedure, and scrotal ironing is no different. They range from very mild, like skin irritation, or slight burns due to the use of the laser too close or too long in one area, which are temporary (but quite uncomfortable, I would imagine).  Then there is a much more intense side effect, which is a risk of retrograde ejaculation; when men get to the point of ejaculation, the semen is unable to leave through the tip of the penis, so it goes into the bladder, and is removed form the body during urination.  That will directly reflect a man’s ability to procreate, because they cannot ejaculate semen from their penis into their partner (or sample jar- however you choose to do it), and it may have to be removed another way, if you are looking for a viable semen sample for procreation.

The Final Verdict?

If you feel the need to tighten your tackle or Iron your scrotum, for whatever reason you feel it is necessary, if you are fertile and looking to procreate, you should talk to your Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) before dropping $575 and booking that appointment.  Retrograde ejaculation seems to be a much rarer side effect, but it is still a risk.  And, I don’t have a scrotum, obviously, but men seem so protective and hypersensitive about that area, I couldn’t imagine all you men running to get this done, but apparently George Clooney has more than just a swooning effect on women!  Just think about the risk vs benefit of a smooth scrotum before jumping under that laser!

Yours in Good Health


Laser Hair Removal: Does it work?

I have been an avid waxer for years, and I truly did not believe in laser hair removal, as I knew people years ago who tried it, and it didn’t work for them at all, so I thought for quite a hefty price tag, if it didn’t work, I might else well stick with waxing! I have one friend that swears by laser hair removal, and I found a Living Social deal, and decided to go for it. I am halfway through treatments and it is one of the BEST decisions I have ever made in my life. That being said, there are a few things that you should know before going in for treatment.

What do I need to know?

The laser emits a wavelength of light that is absorbed into your hair shaft and down into the follicle (the base/root of the hair) and after repeated treatments (usually around 6) the hair follicle becomes so weak it can no longer grow hair or it just dies completely, and no longer makes hair.

Because the laser is attracted to darker hair, you will have better results if you have light skin and dark hair (meaning even if you have lighter skin tones but tan in the summer, you may want to skip the summer months when you are tan if you want optimal results.)

You will need to go for usually 6 treatments, that allows you to get each follicle in the phase of hair growth when the hair is actively growing (there are three stages of hair growth, and only one is active).


You should stop waxing or any other methods of hair removal (other than shaving) for around 6 weeks before you get your first treatment, and you should only shave between treatments, this allows for all of the hair follicles to grow, so that you have the best chance of treating each follicle with growth.

Between treatments, you really should exfoliate at least three times week, with a loofah and  an exfoliation scrub, to allow for the weaker hairs to break through the skin and prevent ingrown hairs. Plus, exfoliation helps to remove the hairs that are dead at the shaft.

No plucking between treatments! You want the laser to kill off the hairs, not you and your tweezers.

If you are getting laser hair treatment in a sensitive area (i.e. face, bikini, brazilian, etc),  you may want to get a cream with lidocaine in it to numb the skin before your treatment (apply 30 minutes before your first treatment.) But elsewhere, it doesn’t really hurt at all…just feels sometimes like a small snap with a thin rubber band (at the worst.)

Ask around before starting treatments at one place: just like anything else, the price may be indicative of the level of competence of the people administering the treatment and also  how good the laser is. There are newer lasers and older technology lasers that may not be as good. The salons/spas that offer these treatments are not FDA regulated, so ask how long they have been doing these treatments, their level of comfort, and expected results with their laser. I had my underarms done at one place, which I thought was good, and tried a different laser treatment center for my legs, and there is NO comparison.  My legs, obviously, cost more, but the laser was so much better and the technician is an MD that has been doing these treatments for years, so I had amazing results without any ingrown hairs, and needed less treatments!

Ask around, find out where has a good reputation, and gets good reviews from patients. If you feel uncomfortable, or they are trying to push you into extra treatments that you don’t need, then leave.  There are tons of medical spas/salons that you can go to that will offer you excellent Laser Hair Removal treatments.  I must say, for all of you in the Greater Boston Area, Landa Comsetic & Spa in Framingham is the BEST in the area, with great pricing and the staff all are very well-trained and they have the newest in laser technology (it is where I went for my legs and now basically every other place on my body!!)

It is an amazing experience to have complete hair removal and never have to think about shaving, waxing, plucking, etc again! If you’re thinking about doing it, I highly suggest it, but definitely do your homework on the place before you start treatments, and ensure that it will work for your hair color/skin tone!

Yours in Good Health


Halotherapy: Is it worth it’s weight in salt?

There are halotherapy centers cropping up all over the US and EU. I had been asked about the effectiveness of these centers in casual conversation, had no idea what it was, and honestly never gave the topic a passing thought….until I passed one in a strip mall in Florida. The sign outside the center offered that it could fix just about every respiratory and skin ailment one could dream of having: asthma, headaches, allergies, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), Flu, smokers cough, chronic bronchitis, psoriasis, eczema….and the list goes on! But does it work or is it just a trend?

What is halotherapy?

Halotherapy is a type of alternative therapy, in which you go into dry salt mines (or a replicated version of a dry salt mine from the EU) and breathe in the air around you which is a microclimate of a salt aerosol treatment. It is claimed that the created climate with the correct amount of humidity and salt in the air, can not only cleanse your respiratory tract but also your skin and help to basically detoxify you.

halotherapyDoes it work?

People with cystic fibrosis, who get significant build up of mucous in their lungs, do very well, when medically treated, with high salt concentration nebulizers. A nebulizer treatment is basically when you create an aerosol treatment out of oxygen flow and a treatment fluid of your choice, and for cystic fibrosis patients, some very strong studies have shown an improved lung function after these treatments….in hospitals.  Also, patients that are smokers, with smokers “coughs” have been found to have relief of their coughs, temporarily and a decrease in mucous production, with high salt aerosol treatments, in a hospital setting. Basically inhaling the high salt treatments, dries out your lungs and mucous production decreases.  It is probably a very similar experience to people who live in humid climates go to a desert or somewhere with minimal humidity; breathing feels SO much easier if you have a chronic lung disease (I have asthma and can speak from experience on this end!)

What’s the verdict?

Much like many new alternative treatments, halotherapy has not directly been studied, but because these treatments have been successful with certain subsets of patients, the assumption is that it will work on many more patients, diseases, disorders, etc. People who regularly go for halotherapy treatments seem to report feeling better and they obviously return for treatment.  And halotherapy centers like to point out that they are wellness centers aimed at helping people lead healthier lives, which I can totally be on board with, and if you are someone who has quit smoking but can’t get rid of that cough, or has some sort lung disease where you have an overproduction of mucous, it may be worth a shot.  That being said, you should see your HCP if you have symptoms (such as a chronic cough or mucous production that are not going away) because it may be something serious, but if you want to alleviate symptoms, at this point, I do not see it doing any harm….it just might not help you a whole lot and cost you a few $.  My biggest fear would be sick people coming into this humidified air to cure their bronchitis (or whatever issue they have) and spreading it to others, but you would have to check out the halotherapy center nearest you and see if you are solo in treatment or with others, and how they prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria in their microclimate.  Use your best judgement, and be sure to tell your HCP if you are using this alternative therapy….then maybe we can get some real research on it!

Yours in Good Health


Home Treatments: Wart removal

Ah, the dreaded and unsightly wart. They can happen to anyone, at any time. I know that if you go to see an HCP, the will suggest getting it burned off in the office, but there are other options and some things that you can try at home to save yourself the co-pay and the time of getting to the office!

Why do we get warts?

All warts (which are flesh-colored, cauliflower like growths on the hands and feet) are caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) when they occur in your genital region, it’s a different ballgame because they can be sexually transmitted, but warts that occur elsewhere on your body are usually not sexually transmitted, but you can get them through a cut, scrape or opening of the skin. For example, people who bite their cuticles (the skin around the nailed) a lot tend to get warts, mostly because we touch a lot of things with our hands daily, and with openings in the skin, you have the perfect source for infection. Usually, with a normally working immune system, your body will kill off the wart within a six-month timeframe (roughly) anyway, but for young children, older adults, and those with weakened immune systems due to chronic disease or medications that cause immunosuppression.


Neat.  How do I get rid of these warts faster?

If you are interested in the warts leaving sooner than your body might get rid of them, then here are some tricks that you can try at home:

*Please be certain that what you think is a wart, IS actually a wart, and if you are not sure, seek expert consultation.

Duct Tape: (This is based on a study in 2002 published in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine which found a high rate of non-return of warts and fast removal) Place a piece of duct tape over the wart and leave it for 6 days, if it falls off then replace it. At the 6 day mark, soak the wart until it is soft and file with an emery board, then replace the duct tape. Repeat until the wart is gone.

Salicylic Acid: (sold commercially as Compound W or Dr. Scholl’s clear away and studies have found it to be just as effective as burning them off) You will need to soak the wart to soften the tissue to allow the medication to penetrate it; apply before bed at night and wash off in the morning, then reapply for the daytime. Once or twice a week, file the area with a pumice stone (or a nail file), but don’t use it on any other area as the active HPV cells could possibly infect another area. Repeat this process for however long it takes for the wart to disappear (can take 2-3 months).

Cryotherapy: (can be performed at your HCPs office, but now available for Over-the-Counter use as Dr. Scholl’s Freeze away) You combine two different chemicals onto an applicator, hold the applicator to the wart for around 20 seconds, then remove. The color of the wart will change, burn a bit, and the wart should fall off in 10 to 14 days.  If  it does not, then you can repeat the treatment.

**There are other methods such as using a banana peel or rubbing a bean against the wart to remove them, but there is no scientific proof that these methods work.

As I said earlier, you want to make sure that you are actually treating a wart, and use whatever method works for you. Obviously the duct tape method takes longer, but it is also a very cheap method to treat/remove warts. And the priciest and fastest method is the cryotherapy. Use whatever works for you, and if nothing you try is working, then you may have to go see your HCP for a more intense treatment.

Yours in Good Health


Do you have Fordyce Spots?

There are spots that occur on different places of the body, and cause a lot of stress when they are found under your belt.  I get a LOT of questions and pics sent to me with people very concerned that they have various Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), depending on what they have recently performed an internet search on. Some should cause some serious concern and some are benign.  Fordyce spots can occur inside your lips on your oral mucosa, or on the shaft of your penis, or on your labia.  I totally understand the freak out that it might be genital warts, or something else, so you should go get tested and assessed, but this is a little information to ease your worry before you get your results!

What are Fordyce Spots?

They are small, painless bumps that are 1cm to 3 cm in size and they can either be skin toned, white, or a little pink/red in color.  As I stated before, they are commonly found in on the inside of the lips, on the shaft of the penis or scrotum, and on the labia, and they are really a common occurrence, but occur more with age. Usually you only notice them when you see or feel them, but at times they can be a little itchy. They occur because the sebaceous glands, the oil glands associated with hair follicles normally that secrete sweat and oils, instead of being inside of the epidermal layer (deeper in the skin) are more superficial, and close to the outer layer of skin, making them very visible. These glands fill with oil, and there is no hair shaft for them to leave the skin, so they are basically little oil filled cysts. That’s it. They are not known to lead to a disease or are not a sign of cancer or any other virus/disease, but they just tend to be a visual disturbance for some people…and their partners.

fordyce 2fordyce 1

What can I do if I have them?

If you go to your Healthcare Provider (HCP), and get diagnosed with Fordyce Spots, they will give you some options for treatment, if it really is bugging you from a cosmetic standpoint, because they are not detrimental to your health in any way. And, they usually go away without treatment on their own. But healthy diets including Vitamin A, B, D, E, and K can usually help them from forming, and go away faster when you have them, so basically, if you get Fordyce spots, take a multivitamin daily and it can help to prevent them.  Good hygiene including exfoliation and moisturizer can help to decrease them from forming (so that your body doesn’t produce excess oil; this works on both the lips and the genitals), and there are some reports that people with either eat more garlic or take garlic supplements have a lower rate of the spots.  Your HCP may prescribe Trentinoin cream, which is a cream that can basically makes the cells replenish faster, so you ave never skin cells forming, which can prevent the skin from getting clogged up with oils. But, again, the only treatment you may need is time.

All of this being said, you do need to get checked out by your HCP if you do have any new skin issues, especially in your genitals, and you are sexually active, you really need to make sure that it is something benign and not Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) in the form of genital warts, herpes, or any other Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI). Get yourself checked out to be on the safe side, but also realize that every bump isn’t contagious or infectious!

Yours in Good Health


You might want to pass on the Chapstick….

It’s been one cold winter, no matter where you live. And when it’s cold, we tend to ramp up the heat, which sucks the moisture from our bodies.  Plus, it’s so cold, we tend to not to want to drink the same amounts of water that we do in the summer, or when it’s warmer out, so our lips tend to get drier than normal, as unlike the rest of your skin, your lips don’t produce oils that can keep them from drying out.  I know tons of people who automatically reach for their favorite lip balm, constantly, and still have dry lips….well there’s a reason for that!

Why do most lip balms dry out your lips?

The skin of your lips is very thin and sheds every 28 days, they don’t produce any oils, and they aren’t protected from UV exposure on their own due to lack of melanin, so they do tend to dry out really easily. This is one case where you really need to read ingredients because if they have menthol, camphor, phenol, or any form of alcohol (things that have alcohol in them end with the letters “-ol”), that means that they will give you that tingle, but the tingle is usually the alcohol drying on the top layer of the skin on your lips.  So, if feels like it is adding a layer of moisture, and that minty/alcohol tingle takes any moisture you just added away.  That’s truly a bummer because so many lip balms, chapsticks, etc. that you see in the local pharmacy are filled with drying agents. You almost become addicted, because you feel like you have dry lips, apply your favorite lip balm, and it dries them out more, leading to the need for more lip balm…and the cycle continues.

Even Hilda likes to use coco butter on her lips!

Even Hilda likes to use coco butter on her lips!

What does actually moisturize my lips?

Some people really do like that tingly feeling, so it can be hard to move to a product that doesn’t allow for that tingly sensation, but to truly get moist lips, you have to ditch that tingle, sorry to be the bearer of bad news. But what you can use is petroleum jelly or Vaseline work great and are very cheap.  You can also use either cocoa butter or Shea butter sticks, which are a bit pricier, but more portable than Vaseline tubs.  And, if you don’t like those options, then search other lip balms that do not contain alcohols, but are oil/lipid based as that helps to add moisture to your lips…and keep them moisturized!

What else can I do?

– Keep your mouth covered by a scarf in really cold weather

– Drink your 8 glasses of water a day

– Wear an SPF when going outdoors to prevent UV damage

– Use a humidifier at home if you use heat, to help keep your lips full of moisture

– Don’t pick or pull at dry skin from your lips- it can make the situation worse.

– If your lips are very chapped all the time, you may want to see a Healthcare Practitioner (HCP) to see if maybe you have a vitamin deficiency, and not necessarily a dryness issue!

So ditch your products with the tingle, and get some real moisture for your lips. You’ll save money in the long run, and have better looking moist lips!

Yours in Good Health


Ever had keratosis pilaris? I bet you have….

Every now and again people will tell me that they have rough skin on the back of their upper arms, almost like little white or flesh toned bumps, that come and go and they don’t know what it is.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it is super common and it is called Keratosis pilaris.  And while it can be a little frustrating to treat because it can come and go, it is really common.

What is Keratosis pilaris?

It is a skin condition that causes these patches of rough (can be dry-looking) skin, that may have bumps that look like very small acne and the bumps are usually found on the upper arms, thighs, and butt area. It can become inflamed or itchy at times, but it is not contagious, it doesn’t spread, and has no long-term health issues.  It is just more annoying than anything else as it tends to go away (or even completely disappear) during the summer months and start to act back up in the fall/winter months.

What causes it?

Basically, it is a build-up of keratin, which is the hard protein in your skin that acts as a protectant. The extra keratin builds up and blocks the pores, causing these hard little bumps and when many of them form, it makes the skin rough and patchy, and appear bumpy.  When your skin gets dry, the Keratosis pilaris tends to get worse, which is why it tends to act up during cold winter months, because our skin tends to be drier.  There is no real reason why it occurs because it tends to occur on many different people and isn’t linked to any other particular disease process.

How do I diagnose and treat it?

The good news is that your HCP or your dermatologist can diagnose your Keratosis pilaris just by assessing your skin; there is no need to have blood drawn or be poked or prodded!! The treatments can be a little more annoying, but usually pretty easy and over the counter (OTC):

– Exfoliate: You can exfoliate your skin to keep those pores open and prevent them from being blocked by the keratin.  You can also use medicated creams that help to soften and exfoliate the creams to alleviate the bumps.  The best creams to use, contain: salicylic acid, urea, alpha-hydroxy, and/or lactic acid.

– Daily Moisturizer: keeping the skin moist by using lotion daily can help to keep the bumps from occurring, and also drying off after the shower by gently drying with your towel and not vigorously wiping the towel against your skin can also help you.

– Corticosteroids: OTC hydrocortisone creams can help with the irritation and itchiness that can occur, but should really only be used short-term to treat any irritating symptoms. It can alleviate those issues.

– Humidify: Keeping the air in your home moist with a humidifier can also keep your skin moist and prevent that dryness that can make the Keratosis pilaris act up.

– Retinoids: Topical medications that are Vitamin A derived (Retin A, and Tazorac) which are by prescription only, can help the cells to go through their life cycle faster, thus promoting new skin cells and decrease/prevent the clogging of the pores by the keratin.  Retinoids can be a pain to get covered by insurance and require pre-approval by most insurance companies, but they are very helpful.

All of these treatments are really helpful while you use them, and can make the appearance of the Keratosis pilaris go away, but once you stop treating it, unfortunately the symptoms usually come right back and they can last for years. It cannot be prevented, it is just one of those things that happens to many people and for most people it gradually fades away and is gone by the time people are around 30 years old. Give these treatments a try, and talk to your HCP if they don’t work and see if there are other options for you.

Yours in Good Health



West Nile Virus: What is it??

I know that mosquito bites are annoying, and we hear about West Nile Virus, and I see the signs all over that West Nile can come from mosquito bites, but do we really know what that means?  What are the symptoms of West Nile?  Is it a big deal? Do I even care? I have been getting a lot of questions about this especially since there have been numerous reports of West Nile Virus found in certain areas around where I live, and the Center for Disease and Prevention (CDC) has reported that 48 of the 50 states have fond cases this summer.  So, let’s get to the bottom of it!

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus is a virus transmitted by mosquitos that can cause very generalized reactions, ranging from very mild to very extreme, with potential for very serious illness. It is considered a seasonal epidemic that flares up in the summer in North America and remains as a high threat through the fall. The CDC reports that this summer has the highest rates of West Nile (just shy of 1600 cases) since it was first found in 1999, and 70% of the cases are from Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, and Michigan.

What are the symptoms?

The virus is really defined by the symptoms really. Only about 1% of people who are infected will get a serious reaction and the two most determining factors seem to be age over 50 years old, and having a weakened immune system (due to transplantation, immunosuppression, chronic disease, etc.) It takes anywhere from 3-14 days to have symptoms of the virus after being bitten. Most people have absolutely no symptoms at all, while other people might have mild symptoms that include:





-skin rash

-eye pain

-swollen lymph nodes

More severe symptoms include:

-high fevers

-neck aches/pain

-severe headache (like a migraine)

-stiff neck muscles


-muscle weakness and/or lack of muscle coordination


-partial paralysis

*These symptoms usually last a few days but the symptoms that are more severe last a week or more and some, like paralysis, can be permanent.  If you have these symptoms, you should seek medical care.

How is it transmitted?

WNV is primarily transmitted to humans and animals through mosquito bites, and the mosquitos become carriers after feeding on dead birds that are infected with the virus.  Other ways of transmission are through blood transfusion and organ transplantation, but it is now a virus that is screened for more thoroughly, so the risk is significantly diminished.  But, you are at your highest risk to become infected during warm weather, due to the nature of the transmission and high breeding levels of mosquitos!

How can I be diagnosed?

Your HCP will determine based on your symptoms if you need further testing, but they will start with lab tests to look for an increased level of antibodies to the WNV, which means that your body is fighting off the virus or has recently.  If you have increased antibodies, you will then most likely get a lumbar puncture (AKA a spinal tap) to assess for the virus in your cerebral spinal fluids (CSF); to help diagnose the meningitis (stiff neck, high fevers, muscle convulsions/rigidity).  The CSF that is drawn off, if infected will show high levels of white blood cells (WBCs) and also the WNV antibodies.  And finally, if you are having confusion/stupor, etc. you will be ordered for an MRI or an electroencephalography (EEG) to study your brain and the swelling (MRI), and the brain waves and function (EEG) to determined the severity of the infection.

Are treatments available?

Because it is a virus, not really, no.  Most of the “treatment” is just rest, and supportive care like Intravenous (IV) fluids if you are in the hospital, using tylenol/advil to treat fevers, eating a healthy diet, and focusing on regaining strength. There is some current research looking at interferon therapy, which is an immune modulating therapy, to help people with severe symptoms overcome the virus faster but the research is in pretty early stages, although at this point it looks promising, interferon therapy is a very intense therapy.

How can I protect myself?

From your home/living area, try to reduce breeding of mosquitos by eliminating any standing water, like change out bird bath date frequently, anything that has still sitting water in it, dump it, and clean out gutters.  Anything moist, damp, or filled with water is the perfect little breeding ground for mosquitos, so do what you can to eliminate them! Also, make sure to change out your animals water bowls that are left outside (if you have one). And how to prevent getting bitten? Wear long sleeves and long pants if going into mosquito ridden areas, especially at dusk or dawn as that is when they are most likely to swarm. Also use insect repellent with DEET (avoiding faces and hands of children) and for young infants you can cover their strollers with mosquito netting (do not use DEET on children under 2 months).  Use good sense, and use the monthly medications to prevent your dogs/cats from getting infected too!

If you are worried about your risk because you spend a lot of time outdoors, in the woods, or in high risk areas, then talk to your HCP about your risk and other ways to prevent WNV.  Also, talk to your HCP about any symptoms you may have had, they may want you to come in for further testing, or come in earlier if you experience symptoms again, to be able to diagnose you!  Wear that bug spray!!

Yours in Good Health