Understanding Treatment
for West Nile Virus

What is the West Nile Virus (WNV)?

As a mosquito-transmitted infectious disease, West Nile Virus (WNV) first appeared in the United States in 1999. Many times, people with WNV won’t experience any symptoms. If they do, the symptoms are usually minor, such as a slight fever or a mild headache. However, if WNV enters the brain, it can be deadly and cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and the spinal cord). Although WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and western Asia — it’s also been seen all over the United States. Exposure to mosquitoes in places where WNV exists increases your risk of contracting it; although, older individuals are at the highest risk.

What are the symptoms of the West Nile Virus (WNV)?

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 80% of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms. Those who do have symptoms may experience a fever, headache, body aches, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, vomiting, and a skin rash.

How does ID Care diagnose the West Nile Virus (WNV)?

Confirming whether or not you have WNV at ID Care entails a variety of laboratory tests, the most common being a blood test. In some cases, however, we may recommend that you have a spinal tap or radiological imaging at one of our affiliated hospitals to confirm the presence of WNV or another related illness, such as meningitis or encephalitis.

How does ID Care treat the West Nile Virus (WNV)?

Unfortunately, there are no specific vaccines or treatments for WNV that exist today — but our team is working with government agencies to help develop one in the future. The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites by using insect repellent and wearing protective clothing. In addition, eliminating mosquito breeding areas (such as standing water from flower pots, pool covers, buckets, or barrels) will also help prevent the chances of being exposed to an infected mosquito. Be sure to use screens on windows to help keep mosquitoes out during warm months, and try to stay indoors between dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are the most active.

SOURCES: Mayo Clinic; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention