West Nile Virus Signs and Symptoms

west nile virus electronThe West Nile virus or WNV for short is a virus that is a member of the Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus which is present in both temperate as well as tropical regions of the world. It is also known as the "West Nile Fever" or "West Nile encephalitis". It is part of an antigenic composite of different viruses and is known to affect the brain. The word encephalitis actually means inflammation of the brain.

The causes of West Nile virus is viral as well as bacterial infections which is essentially transmitted by mosquitoes. This infection of the brain was primarily discovered in Uganda way back in 1937. It is known to be a common sickness in West Asia, the Middle East and Africa.

The sickness had not been previously document in the United States before the outbreak in New York in September of 1999. There have been no reliable sources to document the estimated number of cases of West Nile virus that occur internationally.

Historically speaking, the West Nile virus has been commonly found in birds, humans as well as various vertebrate animals in Eastern Europe, Africa, Middle East and West Asia. The outbreak in 1999 was the only time in the history of this disease that it was found in the Western Hemisphere.

It is believed that the source of the outbreak in New York at the time was probably the Middle East and the American strain of the virus was found to be almost indistinguishable from a virulent strain that was found in a goose on an Israeli farm in 1998. It possible that the virus "hitch-hike" a ride to the Big Apple.

Essentially, people get the West Nile virus by getting bitten by a mosquito. It was identified that the primary mosquito that was affected by the West Nile virus is the Culex pipens.  

The West Nile virus has symptoms which include headache, body aches and fever which are quite similar to the flu. However, this particular disease is accompanied by swollen lymph glands as well as skin rashes. The more severe symptoms are marked with headache, neck stiffness, stupor or sleepiness, coma, tremors, high fever, disorientation, paralysis, convulsion and in extremely rare cases, death.

The death ranges from 3% to 15% depending on the ability of the individual to fight the virus. It is therefore important to take extra precautions during the mosquito season and learn all that you can if you are susceptible to getting this type of disease.

More severe infections are less common and are marked by headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor (sleepiness), disorientation, coma, tremors, occasional convulsions, paralysis, and rarely death. Death rates range from 3% to 15%

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