West Nile virus

Kelli Erxleben

Do I have it?!

The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause viral illnesses of varying severity, ranging from nothing to a mild flu to encephalitis (inflammation of the brain).

What Does it Look Like?

Mild case:
  • fever
  • headache
  • body ache
  • fatigue
  • back pain
  • occasional skin rash
  • occasional swollen lymph nodes
  • eye pain

Severe case:

  • encephalitis (swelling of the brain)
  • meningoencephalitis (swelling of the brain and surrounding membranes)
  • meningitis (swelling of the brain, surrounding membranes, and spinal cord)

How Many People Have It?

For every person who gets the West Nile virus 79% experience no symptoms, about 20% obtain a mild case and about 1% or 1 in 150 of people obtain a severe case and die. If you live in a swampy place, such as the west side of Michigan, your chances on getting the West Nile virus is higher than if you live somewhere without mosquitoes. In 2012 there were 5000 reported cases, about 240 cases were fatal.

What Can I Do Now?

Currently there is no cure. There is an experimental therapy which will only affect encephalitis caused by the virus, but in some cases doctors think it is better without the medicine.

How Long Will It Take?

For mild cases symptoms can last from 3-14 days or a few weeks but for severe cases they can affect you for life or kill you. If you have a severe case then brain damage can last forever and leave you slightly impaired.
West Nile Virus: One Mosquito Bite Can Change A Life Forever

What I Think

Although 79% of cases have little to no symptoms you should not forget about the threat that mosquitoes. 1 of 100 people infected with the virus can either die or go through permanent brain damage. Although that does not mean to fear going outside, but use the correct gear to refrain from getting bit.

Mayo Clinic Staff. "West Nile virus." Mayo Clinic. N.p., 18 Nov. 2012. Web. 10 Dec. 2015.

"West Nile virus." Jason Fryer, ., Monique Laberge, PhD., and Leslie Mertz, Ph.D. The Gale Encyclopedia of Medicine. Ed. Jacqueline L. Longe. 5th ed. Detroit: Gale, 2015. 9 vols