West Nile virus - Dream Health

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Sunday 15 February 2015

West Nile virus

Image Credit: The Mississippi Link.com
West Nile Virus – Bites from Mosquitos 

West Nile encephalitis is an infection of the brain which is caused by a virus known as the West Nile Virus.People get infected with West Nile virus from the bites of mosquito which are found in several countries all across the globe and most of the cases are not serious.

The person either has no symptoms or mild flue like symptoms such as headaches, muscle aches along with high temperature. Serious problems could include infection of the brain or encephalitis, spinal cord and the tissues surrounding the brain as well as the spinal cord – meningitis which could be dangerous. Symptoms or signs of severe infection may comprise of muscle weakness, seizures or fits, disorientation and loss of consciousness.

West Nile is a virus which is capable of causing disease in humans. The symptoms include skin rash, swollen lymph glands besides the fever, headache and body aches. The severe symptoms may include stiff neck, tremors, coma, paralysis besides convulsions and disorientation.

This virus is carried from infected birds to people through the mosquitoes and there is no evidence of transmission from person to person. To reduce the risk of getting infected, the use of insect repellents could be helpful.

Diagnosis – Blood & Cerebrospinal Fluid Test

West Nile virus is found in several parts of the world which may include Africa, west and central Asia, Middle East, Southern Europe, North, Central and South America, The Caribbean and Australia. While travelling to these destination, one should wear loose fitting, long sleeved tops with long trousers which can cover the skin to avoid the mosquito bites.

The use of insect repellent on exposed skin should be maintained, insect proof screens on window and door together with nets impregnated with insecticide over the bed could be of great help and reduce mosquito bites in the interior of the dwelling place.

Care should be taken to avoid the area where there could be large number of mosquitos like areas near stagnant pools of water. Diagnosis of this condition is confirmed with a blood or cerebrospinal fluid test. If meningitis is suspected, a sample of the cerebrospinal fluid which is the fluid surrounding the brain and spinal cord is removed during a lumbar puncture and then tested.


If the symptoms tend to be severe, the person may have to be hospitalized with treatment like intravenous fluid given through a drip in the arm, medication to control seizures and aid provided for breathing. There is no specific treatment for this infection though intensive support therapy is given for the complication of brain infections with anti-inflammatory medication, intravenous fluid and close medical monitoring is done in cases which are serious.

There is no vaccine for the prevention or specific antibiotic or antidote for the viral infection. The risk of this infection is high at the time of mosquito season which does not lower till the mosquito activity ends for the season which is when the freezing temperature takes place.

Cases of West Nile virus infection takes place in temperate area especially in late summer or early fall and in southern climate where the climate tends to be mild, infection could take place all year round.

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