In the good old days, when you received a tick bite, you just had to worry about itching and irritation. Now, we have the uncommon, but real threat of West Nile Virus.
It’s important to be aware of West Nile Virus symptoms because early treatment can be critical.
West Nile Virus is transmitted by the bite of a mosquito infected with the virus. How does the mosquito get infected? By biting a bird that harbors the virus.
Fortunately, the virus isn’t spread from infected bird to human or from person to person. It’s interesting to note that only 20% of people who are infected with the virus will show symptoms and even those that do, tend to have mild ones consisting of flu like symptoms.
This virus is still of great concern because it has the potential to lead to brain and nervous system manifestations.
If more serious illness develops from exposure to West Nile Virus, what can you expect to see:
- Fever and chills
- Headache and stiff neck
- Muscle weakness and achiness
- Light sensitivity
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important you see your doctor immediately. Early diagnosis is critical to having a positive outcome with this infection.
If you’ve been bitten by a mosquito, it’s important to make your doctor aware of this since it can allow for a more speedy diagnosis by allowing your doctor to choose the most appropriate test to detect the virus.
The test used to detect West Nile Virus looks for antibodies against West Nile in the patient’s bloodstream.
Unfortunately, these antibodies often don’t appear until a week to ten days after exposure, allowing the virus to have devastating consequences on the nervous system in the mean time.
This makes a quick diagnosis a challenge. Newer tests are being implemented that will allow quicker virus detection but are not yet available in some areas.
Severe cases of West Nile Virus can progress to paralysis of muscled, long term disability, and even death. Treatment at this stage can be very difficult and may require extensive rehabilitation.
For this reason, prevention plays an important role in preventing the devastating consequences of this disease.
Preventive measures include wearing mosquito repellent, taking measures to control mosquitoes around your home, and not being outside from dusk to dawn, the time favored by mosquitoes.
As you can see, it’s important to be aware of West Nile Virus symptoms to ensure this potentially deadly disease is caught and treated early.