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West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus (WNV) is transmitted by mosquitoes. On rare occasions, mothers pass the virus to their babies during pregnancy or breastfeeding. It occurs mostly in the summer, with occurrence reducing in the cold season. A large percentage of those infected with West Nile Virus are not aware due to the absence of symptoms.


Symptoms of WNV include headaches, fever, nausea, vomiting, body aches. Sometimes, one experiences a skin rash or swelling on the lymph glands. A small percentage of those infected with WNV will develop serious conditions. These could be high fever, stiff neck, muscle weakness, tremors, numbness, paralysis, convulsions, stupor, loss of vision and disorientation. Minor symptoms can last a few days or go on for weeks. Severe symptoms usually last a number of weeks. Where the neural system is affected, the effect may be irreversible.


West Nile Virus is best diagnosed through a serology test where antibodies against the virus are checked. For correct diagnosis, doctors may also use a number of other tests to check for WNV infection. These include Lumbar puncture, cerebrospinal fluid testing (CSF), head CT scan, head MRI scan and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).


Just like regular flu, mild symptoms of West Nile Virus disappear within a week. If symptoms persist, one should seek medical assistance to prevent complications. This is more so if severe symptoms become defined.


To minimize chances of infection, cover most of your body when in the outdoors and apply mosquito-repellant products on the exposed parts of the body. Apply mosquito repellant when going to bed, just in case some mosquitoes sneak into the house. Get rid of stagnant water in and around the house to discourage the breeding of mosquitoes near the home. Keeping the windows and doors closed both day and night will help in keeping mosquitoes away.


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