Facts About West Nile Virus
- West Nile Virus (WNV) is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. West Nile Virus can be found in Virginia and throughout the region.
- Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds.
- Infected mosquitoes can then spread WNV to humans and other animals when they bite.
- The best way to prevent WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.
West Nile Virus Illness
WNV causes no illness in most people, mild illness in some people, but serious illness in a few:
- About 80% of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
- Up to 20% of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days to several weeks.
- About one in 150 people (<1%) infected with WNV develop severe illness with high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, neurological effects may be permanent, and death may occur.
- People over age 60 are at greatest risk of serious illness, such as encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord).
- If you think you or a family member might have WNV, talk with your healthcare provider. Although no specific treatment is available for WNV, a healthcare provider can monitor and treat certain symptoms.
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The best way to reduce your risk of getting WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. Please read our Mosquito page for more information about preventing moquitoes and mosquito bites.