West Nile Virus Infection

By Refadoc, Posted on : Tuesday, 15 September 2015 - 10:46 am IST

West Nile Virus Infection

The West Nile Infection is caused due to a virus carried by the mosquitoes. Often, most people who suffer from this infection do not show any possible signs and symptoms for the same. However, certain minor symptoms such as fever and headaches may be visible. In some of the rare cases, infected people may develop inflammation of the brain, which could be life threatening.

Often, the signs and symptoms of the disease go away on their own. In severe cases, the symptoms include headaches, fever and sudden weakness. In these cases, it is recommended to seek medical attention at the soonest. Overexposure to the mosquito can increase your chances of contracting the infection manifold. Using mosquito repellents and wearing clothing which covers your skin are the best possible ways to decrease your chances of infection.

West Virus Infection – Causes

The West Nile Virus often spreads to the humans via the infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on the infected birds. The virus does not spread by touching or kissing a person infected with the virus. The chances of being infected tend to increase during the warm weather, as the temperature is optimum for the survival of the mosquitoes. The incubation period of the mosquitoes range from three to fourteen days.

The West Nile Virus is very active in areas such as Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The Virus can also spread via certain other ways such as organ transplant and blood transfusion. The virus can also be transmitted from the infected mother to the unborn child during pregnancy and breast feeding.

West Nile Virus – Signs and Symptoms

In most cases, there are no signs and symptoms of the condition. Around 20% people develop signs and symptoms related to the condition. In cases of mild infection, the signs are as follows:

  •       Fever
  •       Headaches
  •       Body aches
  •       Fatigue and back pain
  •       Swelling around the lymph glands
  •       Eye pains and skin rashes

In case of serious infection, the signs and symptoms are as follows:

  •       High fever
  •       Severe headaches
  •       Stiffness of the neck
  •       Coma
  •       Confusion
  •       Pain and convulsions
  •       Tremors and muscle jerking

The symptoms of the disease tend to last for a few days. However, it is recommended to visit a doctor in case the symptoms of the disease persist. 

West Nile Disease: Tests and Diagnosis

The doctor can confirm the presence of the virus in the body by going for the following tests:

  1. Lab Tests: In case you have been infected, a simple blood test can indicate the high amounts of antibodies in the bloodstream. The antibodies are the proteins released by the immune system in order to fight against the virus. A positive RNA Test is a great indicator of the virus’s presence.
  2. Lumbar Puncture (Spinal Tap): An analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid is one of the best ways to diagnose the presence of the West Nile Virus. A needle is inserted between the lower vertebrae of the spine in order to take out a sample of the fluid. This fluid sample is then tested in the lab for the presence of the virus antibodies and the level of the white blood cells.
  3. Brain Tests: In some rare cases, the EEG (Electroencephalography) is conducted in order to check the brain’s activity. An MRI Scan could also be used in order to scan the brain for signs of inflammation. 

West Nile Virus : Treatment and Drugs

The following drugs and therapy can be used for the treatment of the West Nile Infection:

  1. Supportive Therapy: Most people suffering from the infection tend to heal on their own. Over the counter medications can be used in order to control the headaches and the muscle aches. Aspirin is used extensively in order to relieve the pain associated with the condition. Supportive therapy in the hospital makes use of intravenous fluids and medications in order to prevent the infections.
  2. Interferon Therapy: Interferon Therapy is a kind of immune system therapy which is used as an extensive treatment option against the disease. A recent research has suggested that people who go in for the Interferon therapy have a better recovery rate as compared to their counterparts. 
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