Severe West Nile Infection Could Lead To Lifetime Of Symptoms

According to a research presented at the 2008 International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases held in Atlanta, Georgia, people who have suffered a severe infection of the West Nile virus may still experience symptoms of the disease even years after the infection and may likely continue experiencing them for the rest of their lives.

The research was undertaken by a team of medical professionals from University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The said study, which was supported by a National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant, conducted a long term and in-depth look at patients diagnosed with the West Nile virus in the Houston, Texas area. A total of 108 patients were monitored for a period of five years, with patients being checked every six months to record clinical outcomes as well as their rates of recovery.

According to Kristy Murray, lead researcher of the study, about 60 percent of the patients still report of experiencing symptoms one year after a severe infection of the West Nile virus. The researchers further discovered that recovery from the infection for a majority of the patients took place in the first two years.

Murray says, "Once they hit two years it completely plateaus. If a patient has not recovered by that time, it is very likely the will never recover". About 40 percent of the patients continued to experience some symptoms five years after being infected with the virus. Some of the symptoms that were reported to incur long term damage include loss of balance, tremors and memory loss.

About 80 percent of the people infected with the West Nile virus do not experience of the disease. The study only included West Nile patients who exhibited the symptoms of the disease, ranging from mild fatigue to seizures, paralysis and tremors.

Half of the patients developed encephalitis while a third developed meningitis due to the West Nile infection. The patients with encephalitis have lesser chances of recovering than those patients with meningitis or with just simple fever symptoms.


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