- West Nile Fever
- Signs and Symptoms
- Long-Term Effects
- Treatment & Prevention
Fortunately, most people infected with the West Nile virus do not feel sick (about 70 to 80 percent of infections are asymptomatic).
Only one in five infected people have a fever and other symptoms. Less than one percent (about 1 in 150) of the infected people develop a serious, sometimes fatal, illness that manifests as muscle weakness or paralysis, meningitis (inflammation of the membranes around the brain and spinal cord), and/or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).
People who are at a high risk of serious complications include:
- Those who are older than 60 years of age
- Organ transplant recipients
- Those with immunosuppressive conditions such as human immunodeficiency virus, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus, and cancer
- Those on immunosuppressant therapy
What is West Nile fever?
West Nile virus (WNV) fever is the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease in the United States and is declared as a notifiable disease by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Infected culex or anopheles mosquito bites are vectors for the virus.
Although the peak season for WNV cases differs in various US states, cases of WNV occur mostly during the summer and continue through fall. The disease does not occur with the human-to-human transmission, which means an infected person will not infect other humans.
What are the signs of West Nile virus?
Symptoms of the disease are seen after an incubation period of two to six days and most commonly present as:
- Vague headache
- Body pain
- Myalgia (muscle pain)
- Arthralgia (joint pain)
- A transient reddish rash over the body
Signs of the serious disease include:
- Development of meningitis: Headache, neck stiffness, high fever, sensitivity to light, irritability, and convulsions
- Development of encephalitis: High fever, headache, abnormal posture, abnormal involuntary movements of the limbs, change in personality, seizures/convulsions, disorientation, and coma
- Acute flaccid paralysis: Inability to move the limb
What are the long-term effects of West Nile virus?
Long-term effects on people who survive the West Nile virus are still under research. Younger age, however, is a positive factor when it comes to long-term recovery and prognosis.
Although most people recover completely, some report that arthralgia and fatigue may persist for months after the infection.
In a survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, many survivors reported the following even 12 months after infection:
- constant muscle weakness,
- lack of concentration,
- confusion, and
- feeling lightheaded.
Others reported repeated headaches, memory fog, and inability to recollect names of things and people.
Can you get West Nile virus twice?
In most cases, the infection provides you with lifelong immunity.
Most doctors agree that it is not common to get the West Nile virus (WNV) twice. However, WNV may persist for years in the kidneys, brain, spinal fluid, and blood of people who were immunocompromised.
These people may continue to get symptoms such as fatigue and memory issues.
How do you get rid of West Nile virus?
Because there is neither medicine nor vaccine to prevent West Nile virus (WNV), prevention and mosquito control is the best possible cure against WNF. The disease is managed symptomatically.
- Hydration and rest are the cornerstones of therapy.
- Acetaminophen and ibuprofen are given for fever and myalgia.
- Multivitamins may be prescribed for fatigue and brain fog.
The only way to prevent WNV is to protect yourself from mosquito bites, which can be accomplished by the following methods:
- Use of EPA–approved insect repellents:
- These include N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide, picaridin, oil of lemon eucalyptus (OLE), para-menthane-3,8-diol (PMD), and 2-undecanone and should be applied to clothes or over the skin when outdoors.
- They are safe for kids and pregnant and breastfeeding women when used as per directions.
- Exercise the following caution while using insect repellents:
- Never spray on the child’s hands, eyes and mouth.
- Never apply them over cuts or irritated skin.
- OLE and PMD are contraindicated in children younger than three years of age.
- Adults must spray the repellent on their hands and then apply it to the child’s face.
- Wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants and footwear that cover the foot and ankle can help prevent mosquito bites.
- A mosquito net that covers strollers and baby carriers are important to protect babies.
- Mosquito screens:
- Use mosquito screens on windows and doors, while repairing holes in the screens to keep mosquitoes outdoors.
- When you stay in hotels, prefer rooms with air conditioning and sleep under a mosquito net.
- Mosquito control:
- To stop mosquitoes from laying eggs in or near water, it is important to clear out stagnant water sources in or near your house.
- These include water vases, potted plants, tires, buckets, planters, toys, pools, birdbaths, flowerpots, or trash containers.
- You may spray these areas one time a week with insect repellents.
Latest Infectious Disease News
Daily Health News
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Top Can You Survive West Nile Virus Related Articles
Bacterial Infections 101Get more information on bacterial skin infections, which bacteria cause food poisoning, sexually transmitted bacteria, and more. Explore the most common bacterial infections.
How Can I Get Rid of a Virus Fast?Any seasonal change invites viral infections. Children, old people, and those with diabetes are particularly vulnerable to various kinds of viral illnesses. Viral infection may last for only 1-2 weeks. However, the symptoms may interrupt your daily routine making you want to get rid of the virus immediately.
Is Green Poop a Sign of Infection?Green poop may or may not be a sign of infection. The normal color of poop is brown, due to the bile pigment present in it. Any other color (green, red, black) needs attention. Abnormal colored poop may be due to changes in food habits, medicines or underlying medical causes.
Is It a Stomach Virus or Food Poisoning?A stomach virus is also called stomach flu or gastroenteritis. It is a viral infection that infects the tummy and the gut. Food poisoning is also often called gastroenteritis and may present symptoms like stomach virus/stomach flu. However, food poisoning is caused by consuming food or drinks that may be contaminated with bacteria.
What's a Virus?Is a virus alive? Learn the definition of a virus. Viral infections like COVID-19 can occur in your eyes, mouth, skin, or anywhere else. Should you use antibiotics to treat the flu? Is this STD a bacterium or a virus? Get the answers to the most common questions about viral infections.
West Nile VirusWest Nile virus (West Nile encephalitis) is a brain infection caused by a virus. People become infected with the virus after they're bitten by a mosquito that has fed off of a bird that's infected with the West Nile virus. Symptoms in humans include fever, headache, rash, body ache, and swollen lymph nodes. Treatment for a West Nile virus infection involves supportive care.
West Nile Virus PictureThe mosquito-borne virus that causes West Nile fever. One of the flaviviruses, a family of viruses also responsible for dengue, yellow fever, and tick-borne encephalitis virus. Like the other flaviviruses, the West Nile virus is a positive-strand RNA virus containing three structural proteins and a host-derived lipid bilayer. The West Nile virus is an icosahedral structure of about 500 angstroms in diameter. The overall structure of the West Nile virus most closely resembles that of dengue fever virus but the surface proteins are slightly different, which may give West Nile virus some of its unique features.
What Are Some Common Viral Infections?Viruses cause some of the most common infections all over the world, including COVID-19. Here are the most common viral infections.
What Are the 4 Types of Infections?Infection occurs when germs enter your body and multiply, resulting in disease. The four main types of infections are viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic.
What Does An Eye Infection Look Like?An eye infection may bring about the following changes in the eye: A pink tint in the whites of the eye, swollen red or purple eyelids, crusty lashes or lids, and/or discharge of fluids which may be yellow, green or clear.
When Is Green Poop a Sign of Infection?Green poop is a common issue, but sometimes it's a sign of infection. Learn green stool's signs, causes, and treatment options.
Your Health: Infections That Aren’t ContagiousMany infections are contagious. But some you won’t get from another person. You might pick them up from touching surfaces or by eating things that have bacteria or viruses in them.