West Nile virus is a virus infection that can be transmitted by different types of mosquitoes. It is a disease that can be transmitted from migratory birds to various mammals, including humans. It is prevalent in many parts of the world and in a variety of climates.
How do you contract West Nile virus?
The virus is mainly transmitted between birds. In regions in which the virus causes disease among the bird population, other animals, including humans, can be infected through mosquito bites. The mosquitoes that transmit the disease are often active during the evening and night, but mosquitoes that are active during the day can also transmit it. Ticks can also carry and transmit the disease, but the role of ticks in spreading West Nile virus is not clear. The virus cannot be transmitted from person to person.
Where does it occur?
The virus is prevalent in Africa, the Middle East, western Asia, Europe, South and Central America, the United States and Canada. The virus goes hand-in-hand with disease among the bird population. In some areas high bird-mortality rates can be associated with an increased risk of infection. An outbreak may be limited to a few cases but more substantial outbreaks have also been reported, such as in the United States, for example.
What are the symptoms?
Most cases will run their course without serious symptoms. In some cases, however, there can be flu-like symptoms, such as a fever, headache, muscle ache and stomach complaints. If these are accompanied by a rash and swollen lymph glands it could indicate West Nile virus. In rare cases the disease can take a more serious turn, with neurological symptoms and the possibility of a fatal outcome. Patients who recover from such a case can retain residual symptoms of the infection, such as fatigue.
How can you avoid contracting West Nile virus?
A vaccine against the West Nile virus is not yet available, so the only protection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. Check out here which anti-mosquito measures you can take. You’ll also be well advised to stay up to speed on local health bulletins, so that you are aware of any possible outbreaks.