10 Things You Need to Know About West Nile Disease

A six-year-old boy from the Malappuram district undergoing treatment for West Nile disease died at the Government Medical College Hospital on Wednesday morning. Read more about West Nile Disease here.

  1. West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that was originally found in Africa.  It can cause neurological disease and death in people. WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
  2. West Nile Virus (WNV) was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. 
  3. West Nile virus is almost always spread to people by the bite of an infected mosquito. The main species of mosquitoes that spread WNV are in the genus Culex.
  4. Wild birds serve as the main host of WNV for mosquitoes. When some species of birds become infected, they produce high quantities of the virus, which can then be passed on to other mosquitoes that bite them. The virus is maintained in this bird-mosquito cycle. 
  5. Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite. There is no evidence that West Nile virus can be spread by direct contact with infected people or animals. The virus can cause severe disease and death in horses. 
  6. Approximately  80% of infected will not show any symptoms. Only 20% of infected people will get sick. 
  7. People typically develop symptoms 3 to 14 days after they are bitten by an infected mosquito. The incubation period could be longer in people with certain medical conditions that affect the immune system.  
  8.  The Symptoms of West Nile virus include headache, fever, muscle and joint aches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash. 
  9. There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, people experience fever and aches that subside on their own. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used to help reduce fever and relieve associated symptoms. Vaccines are available for use in horses but not yet available for people. 
  10. People over the age of 60 are at greatest risk of getting sick and are more likely to develop serious symptoms when infected with WNV.  



How to protect ourselves from West Nile Disease?

Drain, Dress and Repel.

You can take simple steps to avoid mosquito bites and reduce mosquito breeding sites around your home.

  • Drain and routinely empty anything that holds water, like gutters, pet bowls, tires, bird baths at least twice a week. Keep water moving in ornamental ponds by recirculating water or by installing a fountain.
  • Dress in long-sleeved shirts and long pants, especially at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • If outdoors, use mosquito repellent. 


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