West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus

Overview Of West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is a disease that’s spread by mosquitoes. Regarding severity, the condition ranges from mild to severe.

Commonly Associated With

Encephalitis – West Nile; Meningitis – West Nile

Causes Of West Nile Virus

This disease was first identified in 1937 in Uganda in eastern Africa. In the United States, It was first discovered in the summer of 1999 in New York. Since then, the virus has spread throughout the United States.

According to researchers, the disease spreads when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person.

In early fall, mosquitoes carry the highest amounts of the virus. This is why more people become infected in late August to early September. As the weather becomes colder and mosquitoes die off, there are fewer cases of the disease.

Although mosquitoes that carry the West Nile virus bite many people, most do not know they have been infected.

Risk factors for developing a more severe form of this virus include:

  • Conditions that weaken the immune system, such as HIV/AIDS, organ transplants, and recent chemotherapy
  • Older in age or very young
  • Pregnancy
  • West Nile virus may also spreads through blood transfusions and organ transplants. It is possible for an infected mother to spread the virus to her child through breast milk.

Symptoms Of West Nile Virus

Symptoms may occur 1 to 14 days after becoming infected with the disease.

Mild disease, generally called West Nile fever, may cause some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Experiencing abdominal pain
  • Fever, headache, and sore throat
  • A lack of appetite
  • Muscle aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • These symptoms usually last for 3 to 6 days but may last a month.

More severe forms of the disease go by the name West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis. This depends on what part of the body is affected.

The following symptoms can occur, and need prompt attention:

  • Confusion or change in ability to think clearly
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Muscle weakness
  • A stiff neck
  • Weakness of one arm or leg

Exams & Tests

Signs of this viral infection are similar to those of other viral infections. At times, there may be no specific findings on a physical examination. Roughly one-half of people with West Nile virus infection may have a rash.

Diagnostic tests include:

  • Blood test or a spinal tap to check for antibodies against the virus
  • Head CT scan
  • Head MRI scan

Treatment Of West Nile Virus

This illness is not caused by bacteria. As a result, antibiotics do not treat West Nile virus infection. In severe illnesses, supportive care may help decrease the risk of developing complications.