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MAIN Arrow to HealthHealth Arrow to DiseaseDiseases Arrow to West Nile VirusWest Nile Virus

mosquitoWest Nile Virus (WNV) is one of the insect-borne diseases found in many areas of the world.

So named after it was discovered in the West Nile District of Uganda in 1937, the disease has since spread to others areas of Africa, Eastern Europe, West Asia, the Middle East and North America.

The worst outbreaks were in 1974 when South Africa reported an epidemic of 3,000 cases and in Romania in 1996-1997 where 500 cases were reported with a 10% fatality rate.

How West Nile virus is transmitted

diagram showing transmission of west nile virus from infected birds to mosquitos to people
West Nile virus is transmitted from birds, to mosquitoes, to humans.

Symptoms and treatment

Today, North America has been experiencing an ever-growing area where cases have been diagnosed in birds, other animals and humans. Common signs that you may have West Nile Virus include flu-like symptoms such as fever, fatigue, headache and joint pain that last anywhere from a few days to weeks.

Since it is a virus, there are no antibiotics that will combat West Nile, and treatment usually consists of over-the-counter pain relievers and waiting for the disease to run its course. In rarer cases, severe headaches or confusion may arise from associated complications such as West Nile encephalitis or West Nile meningitis, in which case expert medical care should be sought immediately.

The most effective prevention of this disease is limiting the number of mosquitoes by using chemical sprays and reducing the places where they can thrive and breed. Wearing long sleeve shirt and pants, using insect repellents, and installing screens on doors and windows also help reduce risk of catching the disease.

also see related features -> Mosquito Bites - How To Stop the Itch

Natural Mosquito Repellents


More about West Nile Virus around the Web:

CDC - West Nile Virus
- The US Center for Disease Control has plenty of data for clinicians and those studying the disease, but headings like "Fight the Bite" and "Tell Mosquitoes to Buzz Off" are definitely geared to everyone. This site is available in Spanish and other languages as well as English.

What's West Nile Virus? - Kid-friendly overview of the causes, symptoms and treatment of the disease.

West Nile Virus Resource Guide - This site provides a pamphlet to download as well as plenty of good information on the disease.

West Nile Virus - A clear & thorough explanation on causes, symptoms & treatment, plus dozens of other articles on the disease and related resources from

West Nile Virus News - Up-to-the-minute news & reports collected from various sources around the Web, from

This information is intended as reference and not as medical advice.
All treatment decisions should be made by medical professionals.


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