West Nile Fever

West Nile Virus in the United States: An Update on an Emerging Infectious Disease - Article

ABSTRACT: West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus and human neuropathogen. Since the virus was recognized in New York City in 1999, it has spread rapidly across the United States, with human disease documented in 39 states and the District of Columbia. West Nile virus can cause a broad range of clinical syndromes, including fever, meningitis, encephalitis, and a flaccid paralysis characteristic of a poliomyelitis-like syndrome. Approximately one in 150 infections results in severe neurologic illness. Advanced age is the greatest risk factor for severe neurologic disease, long-term sequelae, and death. Physicians should consider West Nile virus infection when evaluating febrile patients who have unexplained neurologic symptoms, muscle weakness, or erythematous rash during late spring through early fall, or throughout the year in warm climates. West Nile virus infection has no characteristic findings on routine laboratory tests, although anemia, leukocytosis, or lymphopenia may be present. Testing for IgM antibody to West Nile virus in serum or cerebrospinal fluid (samples from the acute and convalescent phases, submitted at least two weeks apart) is the most common diagnostic method. Local or state health departments usually can perform the test within 24 to 36 hours of submission. Treatment is supportive. Prevention relies on comprehensive mosquito-control programs and measures to avoid mosquito bites, including the use of mosquito repellents containing N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide.

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