The West Nile virus is spread by infected mosquitoes. Once an individual is bitten by an infected mosquito, the virus is introduced via the saliva of the mosquito into the bite site.
Aside from a mosquito bite, the virus can also be transmitted via breastfeeding, organ transplant, blood transfusion and via the placenta from mother to child.
What are the signs?
Generally, the West Nile virus does not trigger any sickness or simply a mild, self-limiting febrile condition. In most instances, the virus triggers a mild condition known as West Nile fever.
The indications of West Nile fever are strikingly the same as the flu and might include:
- Skin rash
- Body aches
- Enlarged glands
In uncommon cases, the West Nile virus can trigger a serious ailment specifically West Nile meningo-encephalitis which involves inflammation of the meninges in the brain.
The signs of this serious condition might include:
- Stiff neck
- High fever
- Reduced mental abilities
- Muscle weakness
- Diminished level of alertness
- Involuntary muscle movement
In rare instances, the West Nile virus can be deadly.
Management of the West Nile virus
Always bear in mind that there is no specific treatment for the West Nile virus. In most cases, the treatment is aimed on alleviating any unsettling symptoms such as the headache or body aches.
As for severe cases, hospitalization is necessary so that supportive measures can be started which includes breathing support and intravenous fluids as the body fights the virus.