West Nile Virus Facts
What is West Nile Virus?
West Nile Virus is a viral infection caused by a bite from an infected mosquito. West Nile Virus first appeared in New York in 1999. In 2000, it was discovered in Pennsylvania in mosquitos and animals. There have recently been three cases reported in humans.
How is West Nile Virus Spread?
The virus is spread through mosquito bites. The mosquitos become infected after they feed on an infected bird. It is not spread through direct person to person contact. There is no evidence that a person can contract the disease by handling infected animals.
What are the symptoms?
The majority of people infected have mild infections. Symptoms of a mild infection mimic the flu and include fever, headache, body aches, and swollen glands which last a few days. A more severe infection may include a high fever, stiff neck, encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), disorientation, tremors, and occasionally convulsions, and coma. Please seek medical attention with these symptoms.
Who is most at risk?
People who have a hard time fighting infections are most at risk. This includes people over the age of 50, and those with immune systems that are not working properly. Although, anyone can get the virus.
Is there treatment?
There is no treatment for West Nile Virus. Most people recover fully from the infection. A few will need hospitalization. There has been one death reported in Pennsylvania to date.
How can I protect myself?
It is not necessary to limit outdoor activities. However, to reduce your risk, avoid being outside at dusk or dawn, when mosquitos are more likely to be out. If you are outside wear an insect repellant that contains DEET. Wear long sleeves, long pants, and shoes if you are going to be outside for an extended period of time. Also, reduce mosquito breeding grounds by ridding your lawn of any stagnant water and make sure that all doors and windows have screens.
For more information:
or call 1-877-PA-HEALTH
Jennifer Braund CRNP, MSN