West Nile Virus May Cause Lasting Kidney Infection

A new study suggest that the West Nile Virus may be more dangerous than previously thought. A research conducted by Baylor University finds that while eight in 10 people infected with West Nile do not get sick, it is likely that persistent infection could lead to kidney disease that gets worse over time.

West Nile expert Kristy O. Murray, PhD, DVM–who spearheaded the research–reports that as many as 9% of people with mild or no initial symptoms of West Nile virus maybe suffering from persistent infection.

The NIH-funded study was conducted by tracking about 200 people infected with West Nile virus over the last 10 years. The research team has found that about 40% of their subjects have shown signs of kidney disease and lasting West Nile virus infection.

Those who have survived severe symptoms of West Nile disease–including meningitis or encephalitis–are most likely to suffer persistent infection and likely to have severe kidney damage. The same kidney infection can happen to people who never had symptoms and only discovered about their West Nile infection when their blood is tested.

William Schaffner, MD, professor and chairperson of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University and president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, calls the finding “important.”

“This study suggests that West Nile virus infection not only can persist, but that like a termite it slowly and surely gnaws away at kidney function,” he says.

Source: Web MD

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