Medical Specialties: Allergy/immunology, Internal medicine
West Nile virus is an arthropod-borne flavivirus transmitted by mosquitos. Most infected individuals are asymptomatic, but some develop a mild febrile illness. Though rare, certain West Nile virus may evolve into more serious illnesses, such as West Nile meningoencephalitis.
The West Nile virus is an infection spread by mosquitos. Due to relatively mild symptoms, the virus is often undetected and thus, untreated in patients.
Some cases of the virus will cause West Nile fever, producing fever and body aches. In rare instances, the virus will infect the lining of the brain and spinal cord (i.e., meninges) or create inflammation in the brain itself (i.e., viral meningoencephalitis) to produce symptoms such as stiff neck, decreased mental abilities, reduced alertness and tremors.
Less than 1 percent of people who are infected become seriously ill from West Nile virus. Elderly people and those with weak immune systems are more likely to experience severe symptoms. There is currently no vaccine available for West Nile virus; however, the mainstay of prevention involves using insect repellent and subsequently, reducing the risk of mosquito bites.