Symptoms of West Nile Virus, History, Treatment, Information


Understanding West Nile Virus symptoms is important to know because we can immediately prevent it from gaining life-threatening proportions. West Nile Virus, abbreviated as WNV, is a kind of virus that is classified in the category of Flaviviridae. This virus is commonly found in both regions tropical as well as temperate. This virus mostly affects birds causing infection; however, it is infectious to humans as well as animals such as domestic animals like horses, pet dogs, alligators, stray dogs, rabbits etc.

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The major cause of West Nile infection in human is through mosquito bites. There are chances that an infected mosquito may bite you and leave its saliva behind, under your skin which may gradually develop into West Nile Virus. It is recorded that most cases of West Nile infection in human are nondescript, which mean they don’t have any symptoms. According to records almost 90% of West Nile cases in human were nondescript.

The viral structure determined in this case is similar to virions of dengue as both the viruses belong to Flaviviridae category. During the early fall, mosquito carries highest amount of such virions, this is the reason why most cases of West Nile infections are recoded significantly during August and September. As the weather continues to turn colder, the risk of getting afflicted with the disease decreases as mosquitoes die due to cold weather. As aforementioned that the West Nile disease may be nondescript, most people do not even learn that they are afflicted by West Nile Virus until diagnosis.

Causes of West Nile disease:

As mentioned above the chief cause of West Nile disease is mosquito bite. However, there are chances that you may also get affected through other infected sources such as virus transmission through other domestic animal or pets, birds etc. Also, West Nile virus is spread through blood transfusion. It is also studied that this viral infection may also transmit to babies through breast feeding, in case the mother is already affected. A woman, who is pregnant and is also affected with the virus, may pass the infection to the unborn baby as well.

Symptoms of West Nile fever:

Mild:– West Nile Virus infection may cause one or more than one of the following symptoms, during its mild or initial phase:

• Diarrhea

• Stomach ache

• Pyrexia commonly known as Fever

• Head pain

• Reduced hunger (lack of appetite)

• Ache in muscles

• Vomiting

• Queasiness

• Skin rashes

• Soreness of throat

• Protruded lymph

Moderate to Severe:

In the case initial symptoms lasts for over 3 to 6 days, then there are chances that the conditions may have progressed into WNM or West Nile Meningitis or WNE West Nile Encephalitis (these conditions may depend on the region of affliction). In such a case there may be other severe symptoms experienced by the affected individual. Some of these symptoms are as follows.

• Hindered concentration, confusion or hindered ability to think

• Coma or loss of consciousness

• Weakness in muscles

• Stiff neck

• Weakness in either side of arms or legs

Diagnosis for West Nile Virus

It should be known that signs and symptoms of West Nile disease is similar as experienced in case of other viral infection, hence it is difficult to certainly determine its prevalence through conventional examinations and tests. However, following are some examining techniques that may help in learning affliction of WNV to certain extent.

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• Computerized tomography or CT Scan of head

• CBC test or Complete Blood Count test

• Magnetic Resonance Imaging of head (also abbreviated as MRI or NMRI – Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

• Lumber puncture which is abbreviate as LP and casually known as ‘spinal tab’ (basically it’s a diagnosis technique but sometimes serves as treatment)

However, though these above mentioned tests may be beneficial, the most efficient method to determine the conditions accurately is ‘Serology’. Serology is the study of blood serum and also other fluids of the body. It usually helps in understanding antibodies. There is another technique which is faster in providing result; this technique is known as Polymerase Chain Reaction, abbreviated as PCR.

West Nile Virus treatment

During the initial stages, if symptoms are experienced by the affected individual then West Nile Virus treatment is provided just to calm the symptoms. There are no specific treatments for West Nile virus yet; hence, soothing the symptoms remains the aim of treatment taken initially. If the conditions progresses to a moderate stage then people may suffer from symptoms such as fever, etc. These symptoms may persist for two to several days. Under such conditions your doctor may suggest you to take drugs such as acetaminophen (Paracetamol) or aspirin to seek comfort from the symptoms. It is also equally essential to give rest to your body and allow it to recover from the condition. One should drink increased amount of water to wash out toxins from the body.

If West Nile Virus infection is left untreated it may progress to severe stages like West Nile Encephalitis and West Nile Neningitis etc. In case if intense symptoms are experienced by the patient it is essential to obtain immediate medical attention. Under such severe health condition a person may have to be hospitalized or seek supportive care. Treatments suggested to a patient with severe stage of WNV may include:

• Intravenous Therapy

• Drugs and treatments to reduce chances of seizure, queasiness or brain issues

• Support for respiration or using ventilators

• Avoiding chances of secondary infection such pneumonia or UTI (Urinary Tract Infection)

• Appropriate care by certified nursing assistant

West Nile Virus mosquito picture

West Nile Virus prevention techniques

As it is known that West Nile virus is transmitted to human majorly through mosquito bites, it is essential to prevent mosquitoes from biting you or even dwelling around in the surroundings.

• To avoid mosquito bites one may use N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide (commonly known as DEET) based products. There are many mosquito- repellants available in the market which are synthesized with N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide.

• Wear long sleeves shirts/tops and pants if you are staying in area where mosquitoes are present in considerable amount

• Clear up stagnant or still water, clean swimming pool, birdbaths, water channels or drainages etc

These measures will not only help in preventing mosquitoes from dwelling in your surroundings but chances of West Nile Virus affliction are also significantly decreased.


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