Actress Lisa Whelchel has learned a lot about what it takes to survive in the wild from her current stint as a cast member of Survivor:Phillipines.
Hopefully those lessons will serve her well in dealing with her current struggle: with West Nile Virus.
Whelchel, 41, best known as preppy Blair Warner on the 80′s sitcom Facts of Life, made the announcement on Twitter:
It is not clear when (or where) she contracted the disease. The current season of Survivor wrapped up filming in April.
West Nile virus (WNV) is an infectious disease that first appeared in the United States in 1999. Infected mosquitoes spread the virus that causes it.
The first step in the transmission cycle of West Nile virus (WNV) happens when a mosquito bites an infected bird or animal and gets the virus while feeding on the animal’s blood. The infected mosquito can then transmit the virus to another bird or animal when it feeds again.
Although the virus usually cycles between mosquitoes and birds, infected female mosquitoes also can transmit WNV through their bites to humans and other “incidental hosts,” such as horses.
Approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
Those who do have mild symptoms (up to 20 percent of people infection) experience fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back (flu-like symptoms). Symptoms can last for as short as a few days or as long as several weeks.
About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. Symptoms of serious illness include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis (symptoms of encephalitis). These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience symptoms such as fever and aches that pass on their own, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care.
People over 50 are at higher risk to get severe illness. They are more likely to develop serious symptoms of WNV if they do get sick and should take special care to avoid mosquito bites.
Being outside means you’re at risk. The more time you’re outdoors, the more time you could be bitten by an infected mosquito. Pay attention to avoiding mosquito bites if you spend a lot of time outside, either working or playing.
Source: Centers for Disease Control