West Nile Virus: The Dichotomy Of The Disease, Mild Symptoms Or Death
MacDonald, Debra K.
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West Nile virus made its first appearance in the Western Hemisphere in New York City in 1999. In just three short years it has made a transcontinental movement across the United States. The common North American mosquito, Culex pipiens, is the primary vector in the spread of West Nile virus. Birds are the primary carriers and humans and mammals are incidental hosts of West Nile virus. Prevention and public education are the primary focus of prevention of West Nile virus infection. Clinical manifestation of West Nile virus includes mild flu-type symptoms of malaise,anorexia, nausea, vomiting, headaches, and lymphadenopathy. Severe infections of West Nile virus advance to neurological diseases of encephalitis and meningitis. A positive diagnosis of West Nile virus is confirmed with serological testing of cerebral spinal fluid and serum blood samples using IgM and IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), followed by a neutralization test if the ELISA test is positive. Treatment of West Nile virus is mainly supportive, with severe infections usually requiring hospitalization. A vaccine to prevent West Nile virus is under development and clinical trails are scheduled to start in 2003.