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West Nile Virus (cont.)

West Nile Virus and West Nile Encephalitis Symptoms and Signs

Signs and symptoms of the West Nile virus infection range from no symptoms at all to a rapidly fatal brain infection. In areas where the virus is common, people are more likely to show no symptoms of the infection or have only a mild, flulike illness rather than a severe brain infection. Even in an area of outbreak, the likelihood of a person developing illness after infection with West Nile virus is about one in every 140-300 people.

  • West Nile virus infection typically begins with the abrupt onset of fever, chills, muscle aches, headache, and flu-like symptoms. Headache is particularly common and may be severe. The person may have sensitivity to light with pain behind the eyes.
  • Most people fully recover. In others, particularly the elderly, the disease can progress to cause encephalitis or meningitis.
  • In the 59 people hospitalized during the initial New York outbreak, signs and symptoms included fever (90%), muscle weakness (54%), headache (46%), altered mental status (44%), rash (22%), stiff neck (19%), joint aches (17%), sensitivity to light (15%), and body aches (14%).

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West Nile Encephalitis »

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.

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