Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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West Nile Virus Overview

What is West Nile virus?
A person with West Nile virus has a viral infection that is spread by mosquitoes. After infection, the virus may or may not cause illness. Some people with the West Nile virus infection develop encephalitis. Encephalitis causes inflammation and swelling of the brain and dura, which is the protective layer that surrounds the brain and spinal cord. Only 1 out of 100 people infected with West Nile virus develop severe symptoms of encephalitis.

What are the symptoms of West Nile virus?
Symptoms of the West Nile virus infection are similar to influenza: fatigue, body aches, fever, headache, nausea and a rash. Symptoms of a severe West Nile virus infection include a severe headache, neck pain, neck stiffness, and confusion.

How does the doctor treat West Nile virus?
Treatment for the West Nile virus may include rest, liquids, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever. A severe West Nile virus infection may require treatment with antiviral medication, such as interferon.

Continue to West Nile Virus Incidence

Last Updated: Feb 12, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed West Nile Virus References
  1. Calisher CH. Medically important arboviruses of the United States and Canada. Clin Microbiol Rev. 1994 Jan;7(1):89-116. [8118792]
  2. Mackenzie JS, Gubler DJ, Petersen LR. Emerging flaviviruses: the spread and resurgence of Japanese encephalitis, West Nile and dengue viruses. Nat Med. 2004 Dec;10(12 Suppl):S98-109. [15577938]
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