Rapid West Nile Test: my work just tripled

CNN.com – FDA approves rapid West Nile virus test – Jul. 9, 2003 and my life just got harder.

West Nile virus is transmitted by mosquitoes, and in most people causes no symptoms or a very very mild viral illness; a very few go on to develop the most dangerous of these infections, meningitis. The biggest risk factor, past mosquito bite, is age greater than 50.

Roughly everyone on the planet is going to be bitten by mosquitoes this summer, and there are a terrific number of people who are going to worry incessantly about their bug bites. They’re going to come, or be sent, to the ED.

Last year, we were able to tell people (truthfully) that there wasn’t a decent, reliable test, and that the only people we were testing for this usually always self-limited viral illness were saved for those being admitted to the hospital for meningitis.

Now, we’re going to be innundated with people who are worried they ‘may have the virus’ and ‘want the test’.

Talk all you want about education, when people come to the ED they want The Test, and it doesn’t matter if it’s a blood test or an MRI in the middle of the night. This is going to cause a lot of extra ED visits, at least in the short run, until the public gets used to the endemic nature of West Nile. (Then, look for a test on the store shelves).

Oh, and bring back DDT, and this will be a non-issue.

West Nile from the CDC.