West Nile Virus Symptoms

West Nile virus symptoms are similar to those of the different types of arbovirus family members, of which it is one. West Nile virus infection produces headaches, drowsiness, fever, and vomiting.

West Nile infection is classified as a viral encephalitis of the arbovirus family. It is commonly spread by mosquitoes. Specific bird species host the virus.

It is spread to humans from mosquitoes who have been infected by birds. It does not spread from human to human.

West Nile virus infection symptoms were first reported in North America in New York in 1999. Previously it was typically only found in Europe and Africa.

It generally is dangerous in children and the elderly. One in ten infected people will be killed by the infection. The time course of a typical infection is one to two weeks.

West Nile virus symptoms:

  • headache
  • drowsiness
  • fever
  • vomiting
  • stiff neck
  • muscle trembling
  • confusion
  • seizures
  • weakness or semi-paralysis of arms and legs

Diagnosis is typically through blood or cerebrospinal fluid testing.

There is no specific treatment. Symptom relief is the typical goal of treatment; reducing fever, vomiting, and headache pain. Life support monitoring is routine.

Prevention is key in avoiding West Nile virus infection. Measures involve avoidance of being in contact with, or being bitten by, mosquitoes.

Insect repellents, wearing long sleeve shirts and long pants, and avoiding mosquito breeding areas are effective preventative steps.

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