West Nile Virus Risk Factors

West Nile virus may be rare but its danger cannot be ignored. Even if you are infected with the virus, your risk of developing a serious illness is extremely small. Less then one percent of people who are bitten become severely ill, and most people who do become sick recover quite quickly.

However, your risk of getting infected by the West Nile Virus increases according to the following factors:

Older adults – As we get older, especially over 50, our immune system becomes weaker.

Weakened immune system – Aside from old age, you are also prone to the infections carried West Nile virus if your immune system has been weakened by HIV/ AIDS, long-term steroid use, as well as chemotherapy drugs, or anti rejection drugs following transplant surgery.

Pregnant women – A woman’s immune system tends to lower its defenses during pregnancy to ensure that the unborn child is not rejected by the body. Unfortunately, this allows pregnant women to become more susceptible to illnesses than they would be otherwise.

Time of year – In temperate regions, the virus follows a seasonal pattern that begins in late spring, with the peak time for infection occurring in late summer and early fall-usually between August and September. If you live in southern climates, you may run the risk of infection year-round.

Spend more time outdoors – West Nile virus is commonly acquired through mosquito bites. If you work or spend large amounts of time outdoors, you have a greater chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito.

Geographic region – Visiting or living in areas where mosquito-borne viruses are common increases your risk of exposure to the West Nile virus. In the United States, only one mainland state–Maine–as well as Hawaii and Alaska, have yet to have a reported case of West Nile virus infection.

People with certain genetic mutations – A recent study shows that people who are highly resistant to HIV virus because of possessing two copies of the mutated CCR5delta32 gene are actually more prone of getting infected with the West Nile virus.

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