West Nile Virus – Symptoms and recovery

West Nile virus will develop severe symptoms of the disease,” says Dr. Joseph Vinetz, professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego. Persons age 50 or older are at the highest risk for severe disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

West Nile symptoms, which usually last a week, range from fevers, headaches, nausea and vomiting to muscle weakness, vision loss and even paralysis. In rare cases, the virus can be fatal, though 80 percent of folks who contract the virus don’t experience any symptoms.

While severe cases may require hospitalization, usually to replenish fluids, Vinetz says most folks will feel better by taking ibuprofen, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (aka NSAIDs) or acetaminophen. He cautions against the use of aspirin because of the potential for side effects.

As for malaria, Vinetz advises anyone who returns from a high-risk region with a fever to immediately see a physician to rule out malaria. The CDC’s Division of Vector-Borne Diseases (www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid) has additional information on West Nile virus, malaria and other mosquito-transmitted diseases.

What’s Your Vector?

“Vector-borne disease” is the term used to describe an illness caused by an infectious microbe that is transmitted to people by spiders or blood-sucking insects, such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies and bugs, mites and ticks. The term “vector” refers to any arthropod that transmits a disease through feeding activity.

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