West Nile Virus Symptoms In Humans: Transmission & Treatment

West Nile infection spreads via a mosquito-transmitted virus. Generally, people infected with the virus do not produce any symptoms or may have only minor manifestations, such as fever and headache. On the other hand, some could develop a life threatening problem involving the brain and spinal cord.

Contact with mosquitoes where the West Nile virus is prevalent raises the risk of infection.

You need to shield yourself from mosquitoes by applying mosquito-repellent and wearing clothes which cover your skin well.

Symptoms Of West Nile Virus In Humans

By and large, those infected with the West Nile virus have no signs or symptoms.

Mild infection is seen as:

  • Fever
  • Body pain
  • Rash on the skin
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Exhaustion

Serious infection manifests as:

  • High fever
  • Severe headache
  • Encephalitis
  • Meningitis
  • Stiff neck
  • Disorientation
  • Stupor or coma
  • Seizures
  • Partial paralysis
  • Muscle jerks and muscle weakness

Signs and symptoms last for a few days, but clinical features of encephalitis or meningitis stay on for months. Also, certain neurological disorders, like, muscle weakness, may be lasting.

West Nile Virus Transmission In Humans

  • Characteristically, the virus spreads to humans through infected mosquitoes. Mosquitoes get infected when they suck blood from infected birds.
  • Most West Nile virus infections spread during the warm weather, when the mosquitoes breed. The interval between when you are bitten by an infected mosquito and the manifestation of the symptoms ranges from 2 – 14 days.
  • In some cases, the West Nile virus may get transmitted via other routes – blood transfusion and organ transplant.
  • Spread of the virus can also occur from mother to child during pregnancy or breast-feeding; however, these are rather rare routes and have not been convincingly verified.

Treatment Options For West Nile Virus In Humans

By and large, people recover from the infection without any treatment, especially, the mild cases. The severe cases need supportive therapy in a hospital with analgesics and IV fluids.

  • You could take over-the-counter pain relievers to allay the headaches and muscle pains. Be cautious when giving aspirin to children.
  • Interferon therapy is being investigated to manage West Nile infection. It is a type of immune cell therapy which helps recover better than those who do not receive the drug, however, more study is required.
  • Essentially, you need to avoid exposure to mosquitoes and get rid of all standing water, where mosquitoes breed.
  • Clean out roof gutters.
  • Empty out swimming pools which aren’t being used.
  • Change the water in birdbaths and pet bowls every day.
  • Install nets on windows and doors to keep the mosquitoes out.
  • Steer clear of preventable outdoor activity when mosquitoes are most prevalent, such as at dawn and dusk.
  • Make sure that you use a mosquito repellent to your skin and clothing. Follow the directions on the package, and pay particular attention to the advice for use on children.
  • Wear clothes that cover you completely when outside.
  • When outside, make sure that you cover the baby’s stroller with mosquito netting.
  • Severe cases of West Nile infection with symptoms of encephalitis and meningitis need prompt medical aid and hospitalization to prevent life threatening complications.