West Nile virus is an infectious disease that is caused by microscopic germs (called a virus) that can make you feel sick. The disease is spread by mosquitoes infected with the West Nile virus that can bite the skin of people or animals, such as horses, and give them a fever.
Generally, West Nile virus causes minor or no symptoms. and only in severe cases, it can cause a dangerous neurological infection (an infection in your nerves and brain). A neurological infection can pose a serious threat to your health. Let's learn more about the causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of West Nile Virus
West Nile Virus: Symptoms
According to Healthline, most people who get West Nile virus don’t get sick or show no symptoms. Some have mild symptoms that tend to go away on their own. Usually, the patients suffer from fever and severe symptoms include:
Minor symptoms of West Nile virus include:
Headaches or body aches.
Nausea and vomiting.
Itchy rash on your stomach or back.
Swollen lymph nodes (such as the glands in your neck).
West Nile Virus: Causes & Risk Factors
The disease is caused by the infected mosquitoes that spread the West Nile virus. The mosquito first bites an infected bird and then bites a human or another animal. The reasons may also be blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding, or pregnancy which are rare causes for spreading the illness.
According to Cleveland Clinic, medical conditions that increase the risk of severe symptoms include:
impaired immune system
West Nile Virus: Diagnosis
Doctors can diagnose West Nile virus with a simple blood test that helps determine whether you have genetic material or antibodies in your blood associated with West Nile virus.
In case of severity, your doctor may order a lumbar puncture in which a needle is inserted into your spine to extract fluid. West Nile virus can lead to an increase in white blood cell count in the fluid, which indicates an infection. MRI and other imaging scans can also help detect inflammation and brain swelling.
West Nile Virus: Treatment
West Nile Virus is a viral disease thus it has no cure. Thus, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen or aspirin come in handy, to relieve symptoms of West Nile virus like muscle aches. and headaches.
Intravenous fluids and medications are given in case of brain swelling or other severe symptoms to lower the risk of infections.
Other potential treatments being researched for West Nile-related encephalitis include:
polyclonal immunoglobulin intravenous (IGIV)
WNV recombinant humanized monoclonal antibody (MGAWN1)