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West Nile Virus Infection

West Nile Virus Infections:

Russia warned of a possible increase in West Nile Virus (WNV) Infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation create favourable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.

  • It is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
  • WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
  • Older people, children and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk.
  • WNV was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
  • It was identified in birds in the Nile delta region in 1953. Before 1997, WNV was not considered pathogenic for birds.
  • Human infections attributable to WNV have been reported in many countries for over 50 years.
  • Transmission: WNV is an infectious disease spread by infected mosquitoes. It spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. It can lead to a fatal neurological disease in humans.
  • The virus causes West Nile fever in around 20% of cases, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is related to the Zika, Dengue and Yellow Fever Viruses.
  • Symptoms:
    • Those infected usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
    • The symptoms include a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. They can last a few days to several weeks, and usually go away on their own.
  • If West Nile virus enters the brain, it can be life-threatening. It may cause inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis, or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called meningitis.
  • Treatment:
    • There are no specific vaccines or treatments for human WNV disease.
    • The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.