Everything you need to know about West Nile Fever

By Dr. Pruthu Narendra Dhekane

What is West Nile Fever, and what causes it?

West Nile virus (WNV), a viral infection primarily caused by the West Nile virus, spread by the bite of an infected Culex mosquito that larvae on infected birds are the leading cause of mosquito-borne disease. Infected mosquito bites are the primary mode of transmission. Crows, doves, and pigeons serve as reservoir hosts for the West Nile Virus, which mosquitos ingest while feeding on them. As a result, the virus spreads to their salivary glands and humans. The mosquito season, which begins in the summer and lasts into the fall, is when WNV cases are most prevalent. There are no vaccinations or drugs available to prevent or cure WNV in humans.

West Nile virus has been transmitted in a very limited number of instances by:
Experimentation in a controlled environment
Transfusions of blood and organ transplants
During pregnancy, delivery, or breast-feeding, the mother to the infant

However, the West Nile Virus (WNV) does not spread by:
Coughing, sneezing, or physical contact
By interacting with real animals
From handling contaminated birds, whether alive or dead. When handling any deceased animal, avoid touching it with your bare hands. Use gloves or multiple plastic bags to deposit the body in a garbage can if you’re disposing of a dead bird
By consuming infected animals, including birds. Always follow the recommendations to cook meat properly

What is the influence of Nile fever on the human body – indications, and symptoms?

While the virus has claimed the lives of countless people throughout the world, it stays asymptomatic in 80 percent of infected persons, while infected persons, around 1 in 150 suffer a severe illness affecting the central nervous system, such as encephalitis (brain inflammation) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). High fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscular weakness, visual loss, numbness, and paralysis are all symptoms of chronic infections.

Individuals of any age can get acute sickness; however, people over the age of 60 are at a higher risk of developing severe illness if they become infected (1 in 50 people). People with particular medical disorders, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, renal illness, and organ transplant recipients, are also more vulnerable.

It is frequently fatal in those who have co-morbidities or are immuno-compromised. It’s difficult to get access to these moderately frequent but unusual viral disease tests since it isn’t readily available anywhere. Treatment is primarily supportive and symptomatic and recovery from such major illnesses might take weeks or months with some lasting impacts on the central nervous system.
There is no vaccination or particular treatment for West Nile virus infection.
Fever can be lowered, and some symptoms relieved with over-the-counter pain medicines.
Patients in severe cases may need to be admitted to the hospital for supportive care such as intravenous fluids, pain medication, and nursing care.
Consult your health care practitioner if you suspect you or a family member has West Nile virus sickness.

West Nile Virus Prevention:
Mosquito control, and protection against mosquito bites as well as other mosquito-borne diseases like Dengue or Japanese Encephalitis, is the primary preventive measure. Wearing full-length gear that protects against bites is required. Individuals should take responsibility for their own homes’ cleanliness, drains should be unclogged, stagnant water should be removed, water storage containers should be covered, puddles and drainage of areas where water accumulates should be eliminated and minimized, and trash in yards and gardens should be regulated.

(The author is Consultant- Infectious Diseases, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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