Effects of West Nile Virus

The West Nile Virus has been known to be spread mainly by birds but is also known to infect other animals such as dogs, horses, cats, and rodents. But the main source of human infection comes by way of a bite from an infected mosquito. Once infected, the virus may spread and may affect humans in three different ways.

The first effect that the West Nile virus can have on humans is asymptomatic, or one that shows no symptoms whatsoever. The infected person does not experience any noticeable signs of the infection and may not be discovered at all if the patient does not undergo medical testing. What makes this type of infection a threat is that those infected with the virus may still be able to pass it along to others through blood to blood transmission.

Another effect that the virus may have on humans is a mild febrile syndrome known as West Nile Fever. This stage usually has an incubation period of three to eight days after infection which can then be followed by fever as well as other symptoms such as headaches, chills, weakness and drowsiness among others. At times, some patients will experience rashes for a short time period while others may also experience gastrointestinal symptoms including vomiting, loss of appetite or diarrhea. All these symptoms may last for seven to ten days although fatigue and weakness may last weeks longer.

The third effect of the virus is a neuroinvasive disease that is known as West Nile meningitis or encephalitis. At his point, there is an inflammation of the protective membranes for the central nervous system that can lead to serious neurological damage. It may further lead to the inflammation of the brain. This stage can also be characterized by similar early symptoms exhibited by the West Nile Fever but may also be followed by a decreased level of consciousness that can sometimes be considered as coma-like conditions. Natural deep tendon reflexes may become hyperactive at first but may later on diminish.

There are also other effects of the West Nile virus that have been studied but are still considered as rarer outcomes of the said infection. West Nile poliomyelitis is less common than meningitis and encephalitis brought about by a West Nile virus infection. This can be characterized by the onset of asymmetric limb weakness or paralysis caused by sensory loss. Some level of pain may come before the onset of paralysis and may occur without exhibiting the common symptoms associated with the West Nile virus infection. A more serious form of this syndrome would involve the respiratory muscles that can lead to acute respiratory failure.

Leave a Comment