What is West Nile Virus and how do I prevent it?

Wed, 08/03/2016 - 16:17 | Written for: Student Health and Wellness Center

In order to inform our students about this virus, we are providing information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.

What is the West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus (WNV) is potentially serious illness. It is spread by the bite of infected mosquitoes. However, the West Nile virus is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

What are the Symptoms?

  • Around 80% of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.
  • 20 % of the people will have more of a mild symptom. These symptoms will last for as short as a few days.

The symptoms will include:

  • High fever
  • Headache
  • Body aches
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sometimes swollen lymph glands
  • Skin rash on chest, stomach and back

One in 150 people that are infected with this virus will develop severe illness.

This illness may include:

  • Neck Stiffness
  • Stupor
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Tremors
  • Convulsions
  • Muscle weakness
  • Vision loss
  • Numbness and Paralysis

Treatment: There is no treatment for WNV infection. With the symptoms, such as fever and aches, they pass on their own, although illness may last weeks to months. In more severe cases, people need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing, and nursing care.

How to Prevent the West Nile Virus? 

Use the “Four Ds”

  1. Dress - Reduce skin exposure by wearing long pants, long sleeves, etc.
  2. Dusk and Dawn - Close doors and windows and ensure that screens fit tightly. Mosquitoes are out more during this time.
  3. DEET - Use insect repellent that contains DEET. For more information check out the CDC guidance on insect repellants.
  4. Drain - Eliminate standing water around your house or apartment, regardless of how small the amount (e.g. flower pots, cans, tires, tarps or any impervious material that catches and holds water, etc.). Mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water.

Additional Information: