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West Nile Virus

Since the introduction of West Nile Encephalitis into the US, there have been nearly 6,000 humans infected with the virus, of which 557 cases have been fatal.


West Nile Virus is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia and the Middle East. In recent years, West Nile virus has emerged in North America, presenting a threat to humans, birds, horses and some other mammals. The virus generally produces flu like symptoms. However, the most serious manifestation of West Nile virus infection causes fatal encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) in humans and horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds.


In 2003 alone, 9388 West Nile cases and 246 deaths were reported to the Center of Disease Control. CDC statistics revealed 6452 cases (69%) were reported as West Nile fever (milder disease), 2773 (30%) were reported as West Nile meningitis or encephalitis (neuroinvasive disease) and 163 (2%) were clinically unspecified. Source: Centers for Disease Control

2006 West Nile Virus Activity in the United States


west nile map

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans through mosquito bites. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds that have high levels of the disease in their blood. Infected mosquitoes can then transmit the virus when they feed on humans or other animals. Currently, there is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection or vaccine to prevent it.



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