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West Nile Virus

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When I was living in Southern California few years ago, most of the major television channels were warning us about a potentially deadly virus that was spreading fast in the United States. This was believed to have traveled through the African countries to reach America in the late nineties in New York city. West Nile virus is caused through mosquitoes that carry culex pipieus virus or infection. It is spread through birds--mainly crows, house sparrows and then also mosquitoes. West Nile virus is common in Middle east Asia, West Asian countries and Africa. Although it is not contagious its effects could be as deadly as its counterparts since it mainly affects the nervous system.

Symptoms of West Nile include fever, headache, neck and back pain, fatigue, joint pain, swollen glands and rash. Severe cases of the virus presents itself as encephalitis and the symptoms include convulsions, confusion, high fever, and partial paralysis. Pregnant women who are infected with this virus could transmit it to the unborn child. Other ways of transmission include organ transplants, breast feeding and blood transfusions.

West Nile encephalitis is the infection of the brain that is caused by the virus. Symptoms usually surface between five to 15 days after infection starts. West Nile is also known to be transmitted through common household ticks. Similarities exist between the West Nile virus and Japanese encephalitis or St. Louis encephalitis. Symptoms include headache, body pains, rashes, swollen lymph nodes and fever. Severe cases of West Nile encephalitis include insomnia, dementia, and depression among others which could cause long term effects. West Nile virus manifests mostly during the late summer or early fall seasons and affects people above 50 years of age.

Anti inflammatory drugs, IV fluids and constant monitoring are the treatment methods and no other vaccination is available. Prevention methods could include monitoring bird populations, clearing stagnant waters and controlling the mosquito population.

Nebraska, South Dakota, Texas, and mountain states such as California, Michigan, etc., are the most popular places that carry the West Nile virus.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.