Information on Symptoms of West Nile Virus - Montgomery Alabama news.

Information on Symptoms of West Nile Virus

Q: What is the West Nile virus?
A: West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord.)

Q: How is West Nile virus spread?
A: West Nile virus is spread to human by the bite of an infected mosquito. A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. You or your child cannot get West Nile virus from a person who has the disease. West Nile virus is not spread by person-to-person contact such as touching, kissing, or caring for someone who is infected.

Q: What are the symptoms of West Nile viral infection?
A: Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus either have no symptoms or experience mild illness such as fever, headache, and body aches before fully recovering. Some persons may also develop mild rash or swollen lymph glands. In some individuals, particularly the elderly, West Nile virus can cause disease that affects the brain tissue. At its most serious, it can cause permanent neurological damage and can be fatal. Symptoms of encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) include the rapid onset of severe headache, high fever, stiff neck, confusion, loss of consciousness (coma), or muscle weakness, and may be fatal.

Q: Can you get West Nile virus from another person?
A: No. West Nile virus is NOT transmitted from person to person. For example, you cannot get West Nile virus from touching or kissing a person who has the disease, or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.

Q: How long does it take to get sick if bitten by an infected mosquito?
A: Being bitten by an infected mosquito will not necessarily make you sick. Most people who are infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms or experience only mild illness. If illness were to occur, it would occur within 3 to 15 days of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Q: I've been bitten by a mosquito. Should I be tested for West Nile virus?
A: No. Illnesses related to mosquito bites are still uncommon. However, you should see a doctor immediately if you develop symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, severe headaches, stiff neck, or if your eyes become sensitive to light. Patients with mild symptoms should recover completely, and do not require any specific medication or laboratory testing.

Q: How is West Nile encephalitis treated?
A: There is no specific therapy. In more severe cases, intensive supportive therapy is indicated, i.e., hospitalization, intravenous (IV) fluids and nutrition, airway management, ventilatory support (ventilator) if needed, prevention of secondary infections (pneumonia, urinary tract, etc.), and good nursing care.

Q: What proportion of people die when infected with West Nile virus?
A: Fewer than 1% of people infected with West Nile virus develop encephalitis, and among those hospitalized with West Nile encephalitis, the case fatality rate changes from 3% to 15%. Therefore, fewer than 1 in 1,000 people infected with West Nile virus die.

Q: Is there a vaccine against West Nile virus?
A: No. A vaccine for West Nile virus does not exist.  However, vaccines are being tested and one has been developed to protect mice from the virus, according to the National Institutes of Health.  The vaccine will have to be tested on monkeys before it moves on to be tested in humans.

Source:  New York City Department of Health

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