West Nile Virus Cases Show a 35% Increase in One Week


West Nile Virus September 2012

The CDC announced on Tuesday September 13, 2012 that the West Nile virus outbreak, which recently hit the U.S., is showing no signs of relenting, with an astounding 35% increase in cases from last week. With 2,636 cases involving people, including 118 deaths, all states except Alaska and Hawaii have reported at least one case of the West Nile virus. Six states, Texas, South Dakota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Michigan hold the largest percentage of cases, roughly 70%. In fact, Texas has reported just about half of the cases, at a whopping 45%. The CDC reported that 54% of these cases are classified as a neuroinvasive disease. This classification means that when the virus enters the nervous system it causes additional life threatening conditions like encephalitis and meningitis. Dr. Lyle Petersen, who is the director of the CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Infectious Diseases, revealed that the current statistics reported so far in 2012 are the highest number reported in the United States since 1999. Dr. Petersen cautioned that the worst is not yet over, either. In a statement made during a press conference last week he said, “We may be past the historical peak, we expect that a great many cases of West Nile virus disease have not yet been reported, largely because of a lag when a person gets sick and the disease is reported.” With no specific remedies to treat West Nile virus, the medical community worldwide is desperately seeking innovative and palliative care. The advent of this urgent situation has opened a pathway to research and developers to capitalize on this need, and create a solution for this very serious problem.

What can be done to treat West Nile virus? One idea has been studied for several years, and it has now risen to the forefront of pharmaceutical technology. The use of Interferon therapy appears to be not only a viable solution, but also an attainable one. According to the Mayo Clinic, this type of immune cell therapy has shown to be effective as a treatment for encephalitis caused by West Nile virus. Research gathered and disseminated by the Mayo Clinic has shown that people who receive interferon may actually recover better than those who don’t receive the drug. West Nile virus is a single-stranded, positive-sense RNA virus of the Flaviviridae family, and it is maintained in nature through a mosquito-bird-mosquito transmission cycle. Beside humans, horses and other animals are incidental hosts to these mosquitos. While West Nile virus has been an endemic issue in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Australia, the United States is now following suit in this devastating situation. Unfortunately, humans cannot properly fight this virus, especially those patients who are immunosuppressed or elderly. Symptoms of this virulent virus including a fever, headache, tiredness, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. However, these symptoms may progress to lethal encephalitis, which includes repercussions such as cognitive dysfunction, muscle weakness, flaccid paralysis, and seizures. When classified as a severe disease West Nile is also deemed neuroinvasive. In addition to encephalitis a deadly form of meningitis can also occur, which includes a severe headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is currently estimated that approximately 1 in 150 people infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease. This situation is dire.

Hope is not lost, as Alpha/beta interferon is known to be comprised of a vital innate immune system control against viral infections. This Alpha/beta interferon is able to induce an antiviral state within cells through upregulation and the activation of antiviral proteins, such as RNA-activated protein kinase, and also by modulating adaptive immune responses. The hypothesis being examined currently by research scientists centers around the aforementioned idea, and that the ability of IFNs to inhibit cell death may preserve neuronal populations and limit disease in the central nervous system,  induced by either a viral infection or inflammation. This hypothesis is a promising beginning to a plethora of pharmaceutical discovery on the horizon. LGM Pharma is a provider of Interferon Alpha, CAS# 118390-30-0 for research and development purposes. You are reassured of comprehensive support and unwavering commitment from the team at LGM Pharma, and we will offer support to you throughout the entire research and development process. Other possible treatment methods include the use of immunoglobulin’s and Gemfibrozil CAS# 25812-30-0 as anti-inflammatory relief for patients with neuroinvasive West Nile. The latest statistics have created a significant fervor for research and development to combat not only the West Nile virus itself, but also to address the short and long-term effects of this disease.

 

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References:

  • http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/index.htm
  • http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/symptoms.htm
  • Anderson, J. F., and J. J. Rahal. 2002. Efficacy of interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin against West Nile virus in vitro. Emerg. Infect. Dis. 8:107-108.
  • Brooks, T. J., and R. J. Phillpotts. 1999. Interferon-alpha protects mice against lethal infection with St. Louis encephalitis virus delivered by the aerosol and subcutaneous routes. Antiviral Res. 41:57-64.
  • Nash D, Mostashari F, Fine A, Miller, J, O’Leary D, Murray K, Huang A, Rosenberg A,Greenberg A, Sherman M, Wong S, Layton M. The Outbreak of West Nile virus Infection in the New York City Area in 1999. N Eng J Med 2001
  • Sampathkumar P. West Nile Virus: Epidemiology, Clinical Presentation, Diagnosis, and Prevention. Mayo Clin Proc 2003
  • Anderson JF, Rahal JJ. Efficacy of interferon alpha-2b and ribavirin against West Nile virus in-vitro. Emerging Infect Dis 2002
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