West Nile Virus and West Nile Encephalitis (WNE)
West Nile Virus Overview
West Nile virus is a Flaviviridiae virus transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. Virus symptoms range from none to severe: encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). The disease the virus causes is termed West Nile Encephalitis (WNE). WNE currently is endemic in Asia, Africa, Middle East and can be detected in many areas in the US (see map below).
West Nile virus was discovered in 1937 in the West Nile district of Uganda. West Nile emerged in the United States for the first time in the New York City area in August 1999. There were 62 confirmed human cases and 7 deaths during this outbreak, creating widespread concern.
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West Nile encephalitis (WNE) is distinguished from other arthropod-borne causes of viral encephalitis (eg, western equine encephalitis, eastern equine encephalitis [EEE], Japanese encephalitis, Venezuelan encephalitis) based on its geographic distribution, clinical features, and laboratory findings.