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Health Information For Parents
West Nile virus is a virus that can pass to people through the bite of an infected mosquito. The best way to prevent infection with West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites.
Most of the time, a bite from a mosquito infected with West Nile virus doesn’t make a person sick or cause symptoms. When symptoms do happen, they’re usually mild and can include:
Rarely, a person can get very ill with problems that affect the central nervous system, such as encephalitis or meningitis. Their symptoms can include:
Severe illness can life-threatening, especially in the elderly and people who are already sick.
Mosquitoes get infected by feeding on birds that carry West Nile virus. They can spread it to people and animals through bites. In the U.S., only one kind of mosquito (out of 175 types) can pass the West Nile virus.
The virus isn’t contagious, so it can’t spread from person to person.
If someone has symptoms of West Nile virus, doctors consider:
The doctor can send a blood sample to a lab to test for the infection.
Someone with symptoms of encephalitis or meningitis may get a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). This test collects some fluid from around the brain and spinal cord for testing in a lab.
Most West Nile virus infections get better on their own. Acetaminophen or ibuprofen can help ease minor aches and pains, and drinking plenty of fluids can prevent dehydration.
Someone with more serious symptoms needs care in a hospital, with IV fluids, breathing help, and other treatments. There is no specific medicine for West Nile encephalitis or meningitis. Antibiotics will not work because a virus, not bacteria, causes West Nile disease. No vaccine for the virus is currently available.
The best way to protect yourself and your family from the West Nile virus is to prevent mosquito bites. Be sure to:
Communities help health officials track West Nile virus infection patterns. If you see a dead bird in your area, do not touch it with your bare hands. Instead, contact your state or local health department to ask what to do with it. If they get a lot of reports of dead birds, they can look to see if they were infected with West Nile virus. If so, health officials can spray the area with pesticides or do other things to help control mosquitoes.
Mosquito-borne diseases are illnesses spread by the bite of an infected mosquito.
Most bug bites and stings are just annoying. But some can cause infections and allergic reactions. It’s important to know what to watch for, and when to get medical attention.
Find out what the experts have to say.
Encephalitis is a rare brain inflammation caused by a virus. The best way to avoid encephalitis is to prevent the illnesses that may lead to it.
Meningitis is treatable, but can be serious. So it’s important to know the symptoms, and get medical care right away if you think that your child has the illness.
You’re not at risk of this illness in the U.S., but if you live in or are traveling to a tropical country it’s wise to take precautions against this virus.
With so much media coverage about Zika virus, it’s natural to feel worried. The virus is of most concern for pregnant women and women who may become pregnant.
Lyme disease can affect the skin, joints, nervous system, and other organ systems. If Lyme disease is diagnosed quickly and treated with antibiotics, most people feel better quickly.
Malaria – a common infection in hot, tropical areas – is a leading cause of death worldwide. But if diagnosed early and treated, it can be cured.
This infectious disease can cause high fevers, headaches, rashes, and pain throughout the body. Find out what to do about dengue fever – and how to avoid it.
Encephalitis is an inflammation of the brain. Although encephalitis sounds scary, understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment can help you feel prepared to deal with it if you ever need to.
Generally, insect bites and stings are harmless. Find out how to keep pests from ruining your fun.
There are thousands of different kinds of mosquitoes in many different sizes and colors. Learn all about mosquitoes and how they bite you in this article.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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