Dear Annie: It was reported last summer that the West Nile virus is transmitted by blood (mosquitoes) or blood transfusions. Tell me, Annie, what are the chances of contracting this virus sexually from someone who has been exposed?
You'd think this would be a very basic question, but I did not see the topic discussed anywhere in the media. Just Steve in Lebanon, Pa.
Dear Steve: We contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and were told that there is no information yet regarding the sexual transmission of West Nile virus. However, the virus apparently is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing an infected person, or by handling an animal with the virus.
Here's what we do know: Most people who become infected have no symptoms and suffer no ill effects. About 20 percent develop fever, headache, body aches and sometimes a rash and swollen lymph glands. The symptoms usually show up three to 14 days after infection and will disappear, without treatment, after a few days.
A small number of people develop life-threatening inflammation of the brain (encephalitis) or inflammation of the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord (meningitis). The risk of inflammation is highest for people over 50 years of age. Symptoms include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis. If you notice these symptoms, get to the nearest emergency room for treatment.
Experts recommend that you avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn, when mosquito activity is greatest. Ensure that your window and door screens are in good repair. Clean out clogged rain gutters. Once or twice a week, empty water from flowerpots, pet food and water dishes, birdbaths, swimming pool covers and other areas that collect water. When outside, wear loose-fitting clothing that covers legs and arms, and apply insect repellent.
Dear Annie: A while ago, my wife and I signed up for basic cable TV service, without any of the premium channels. After the installer left, we discovered that we were receiving more channels than we paid for, including premium stations.
We did nothing, figuring the cable company would realize its mistake, or that the extras were a promotional attempt to entice us to keep them. However, it's been six months, and we are still receiving all of the premium stations.
If I call the cable company to remove the extra channels, I will lose a half day of work waiting for them to come back to my house. On the other hand, I am not paying for these channels and shouldn't be receiving them. Please give me your opinion on this ethical dilemma. It's been bothering me. California Cable Guy
Dear Cable Guy: You'll sleep better at night if you call the cable company and 'fess up. The good news is, depending on your setup, the company may not need to come to your house to disconnect the extra channels.
Dear Annie: I am a 70-year-old man who was taught at a young age that dinner was a time to talk about your day and enjoy your meal. I recently went to a restaurant with a friend who was on the edge of his seat the entire time. He tore into his meal as if he hadn't eaten for days. I was still on my salad when he finished and said he was going to warm up the car. Is this the way people eat now? If it is, I'm finding new friends. Wondering in Washington State
Dear W.: Perhaps your friend had another appointment but didn't want to miss his dinner with you. Let's hope so. Otherwise, he was unforgivably rude.