A virus that is transmitted by mosquitoes will most probably be the main reason to get or contract the West Nile virus. A majority of individuals who will be infected by this mosquito virus will not present any major symptom and will only experience some minor ones such as a mild headache a slight fever. A few, however, may develop life-threatening and major symptoms which may lead to the spinal cord or brain inflammation.
The aforementioned mild symptoms of this disease will mostly resolve by itself. Unfortunately, the more intense signs and symptoms of the West Nile Virus may not resolve on their own and may require the infected individual or patient to immediately visit their healthcare professional or doctor for medical assistance and further assessment.
A person who may get exposed to areas where West Nile Virus is prevalent is at a higher risk of contracting the above-mentioned illness. Some ways to prevent infection would be to wear clothes that prevent mosquitoes from gaining access to exposed skin and to possibly apply mosquito repellant before entering an area known as having West Nile Virus.
What are the Symptoms of the West Nile Virus?
As stated earlier in the article, there are some minor and major symptoms for the West Nile Virus Infection. Some people who are infected though, may not present any form of symptoms or signs. The minor signs and symptoms of West Nile virus infection include rashes in the skin, fatigue, diarrhea, vomiting, body aches, headaches, and fever. A very small portion of infected individuals estimated to be around just one percent of infected patients will develop some life-threatening and major infection of the neurological system such as encephalitis or brain inflammation and meningitis or the inflammation of the spinal cord and brain membranes.
Once people already have these neurological infections, they may experience a number of different symptoms that should be a cause for deep worry and concern. These serious signs and symptoms include weakness of the muscles, partial paralysis, seizures, muscle jerking, tremors, coma, stupor, confusion, disorientation, stiffness in the neck, severe headache, high fever.
The minor symptoms and signs of the West Nile River infection will most usually just last for a number of days but the more serious and severe symptoms and signs of meningitis and encephalitis may be experienced for weeks and even months. Some of the adverse effects of the aforecited neurological infection such as weakness of the muscles may be a condition that will be with the patient for life or permanently.
People may then ask “When should we seek further medical assessment and treatment from our doctor or healthcare professional?”. The minor symptoms of West Nile Virus may no longer need further treatment as they will disappear without any doctor intervention. However, major symptoms and signs such as confusion, disorientation, stiffness of the neck, and severe headaches should prompt patients and infected individuals to immediately seek further medical assistance from their health partner or doctor.
What Causes West Nile Virus Infection?
The West Nile Virus Infection is usually spread to people and other animals through the transmission of the virus by mosquitoes that are infected. These infected mosquitoes usually get their initial infection from their feeding on birds that are also infected. Interestingly, the virus does not spread via casual or simple contact with an infected animal or individual.
West Nile Virus infections usually spike in occurrence during weather that is warm as this is the season where mosquitoes are most active. The incubation period for the infection ranges from two (2) days to fourteen (14) days. This means that the actual symptoms of the infection will only be detected after two to fourteen days of being infected.
Other causes of the West Nile Virus Infection may have a more unconventional route. These unconventional routes include infection via transplantation of organs and transfusion or transfer of blood. These possible causes, however, are significantly reduced due to some basic screening of the blood and organs. Another possible unconventional route for the West Nile Virus is its transmission from the mother to her baby during pregnancy and lactation or breastfeeding. Further studies though, need to be conducted to establish the said infection risk for infants and children.
What are the Risk Factors of the West Nile Virus?
One major risk factor for being infected with the West Nile Virus would be the season or the month of the year. Data suggest that in the United States, the lower states, all 48 of them, experience a spike in the occurrence of the West Nile Virus from the months of June to September. Other risk factors include old age other medical conditions. People who are older are more prone to contracting the West Nile Virus infection while patients with type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, kidney disease, and cancer are more susceptible to the West Nile Virus.
What Treatment Options are there for the West Nile Virus?
People with minor symptoms of the West Nile Virus will usually have their symptoms resolve on their own without having to be admitted to the hospital. However, those with more severe symptoms and neurological infections may need intravenous fluid, further hospital therapy, and pain relievers. Scientists are also looking into the use of cell therapy of interferon therapy but this needs further research for validation.