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West Nile Virus (cont.)

West Nile Virus and West Nile Encephalitis Diagnosis

Diagnosing West Nile virus infections is generally done through a combination of observing signs and symptoms along with specialized molecular biologic testing for the virus itself.

  • Only people with severe symptoms will require further testing. There is no cure for West Nile and therefore little to gain by widespread testing of people with mild symptoms. In addition, there is only limited laboratory capacity for testing at this time.
  • Confirmatory diagnosis of West Nile virus infection is generally done by a DNA test called polymerase chain reaction (PCR) or viral culture of fluid around the spinal cord. A doctor sends both blood samples and spinal fluid samples, obtained by lumbar puncture (also called a spinal tap), to a specialized outside laboratory for these tests. This testing helps exclude dengue fever, equine encephalitis, and other infections from WNE.

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Read What Your Physician is Reading on Medscape

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.

Read More on Medscape Reference »


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