West Nile Virus (WNV)

West Nile virus, first identified in Uganda in 1937, is an arbovirus infection that continues to spread worldwide over the years. Mostly transmitted by the bites of Culex mosquitoes, the disease often spreads between June and September. The reason for the rapid spread of the disease worldwide is that mosquitoes carrying the virus infect different poultry species by biting them. Infected birds flying long distances play an active role in the spread of the disease between continents. The infection, which affects public health, is seen seasonally in any country, especially in areas located on the migration routes of birds.

West Nile virus is from the family Flaviviridae that can easily infect many mammalian species as well as humans. The virus has neurotropic properties, which means it can cause many neurological diseases such as meningitis, encephalitis, and ataxia by affecting the central nervous system of humans. The disease, accompanied by many symptoms such as high fever, numbness, headache, confusion, diarrhea, and gastrointestinal symptoms, can be fatal in some cases.

What Are The Causes of West Nile Virus?

West Nile virus, a type of single-stranded RNA virus, has caused outbreaks in many countries around the world at different times. The main host is wild birds, while mosquitoes are the main source of West Nile infection. Mosquitoes of Culex species, which breed in polluted waters and septic tanks, feed on blood at night. The virus, which has no resistance to the external environment, can be transmitted to humans only by bites of Culex mosquitoes. The virus is not directly transmitted from person to person or to humans from other infected mammals. Apart from this, it has also been observed that it is rarely transmitted by blood transfusion and organ transplantation, albeit very rarely. It is also known that it is passed from mother to baby during birth or through breastfeeding. In addition, the disease can be transmitted by contact with the feces of infected birds with an incision on the skin.

What Are The Symptoms of West Nile Virus?

West Nile infection, which is mild in many cases, may be asymptomatic in some cases, that is, it may not show any symptoms. A potentially life-threatening West Nile infection causes many neurological symptoms. The course of the disease is much faster and more effective in people aged 50 and over.

It takes approximately 2 to 15 days for a person to show the first symptoms of the virus after being bitten by an infected mosquito. The infection causes different clinical findings after the incubation period. While some cases do not show any symptoms, others may be severe enough to require inpatient treatment and even lead to death. Headache is often the first symptom seen in the disease that develops due to the West Nile virus. Symptoms of West Nile virus, which often presents itself with flu-like symptoms, including headache and backache, sudden high fever, weakness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle weakness, skin rash, and excessive swelling of the lymph nodes known as lymphadenopathy. In advanced cases, symptoms may include drowsiness, inability to hold the neck upright, confusion, muscle twitching, and temporary neurological dysfunctions known as tremor, coma, convulsions, meningitis, encephalitis, ataxia, and paralysis due to central nervous system involvement. Spotted blisters and rashes are also frequently seen on the skin surfaces of children aged 0-18.

Serious infections can result in inflammation of the heart muscle known as myocarditis, pancreatitis, and hepatitis. Considering studies, it can be said that 80% of people infected with West Nile virus do not show symptoms. High fever known as West Nile Fever is seen in 90% of symptomatic cases in the 20% of the cases showing signs of the presence of the disease. Nervous system involvement is seen in 10% of total symptomatic cases. As a result of nervous system involvement due to West Nile virus, the disease defined as West Nile Neuro-Invasive Disease (BNNI) develops. Approximately 65% ​​of BNNI progresses with encephalitis, 30% with meningitis, and the remaining 5% with the type of paralysis defined as acute flaccid paralysis. 1% of all West Nile virus cases result in meningitis, encephalitis, and paralysis. About 20% of cases ofdeath, while this rate is between 10% and 50% in stroke cases. Due to encephalitis, insomnia, muscle weakness, confusion, depression, and headache complaints continue for a long time. Some patients may have permanent cognitive and neurological damage.

How Is West Nile Infection Diagnosed?

In the presence of suspicion of West Nile infection, the physician requests laboratory tests; such as Real-Time PCR. Depending on the clinical signs and symptoms, is performed. Antibodies produced by the body’s immune system against West Nile infection are detected in the laboratory environment. The diagnosis of the disease is made by the physician according to the laboratory results.

How Is West Nile infection Treated?

There is no vaccine or drug treatment method developed for West Nile Fever yet. Different treatment methods are applied to improve the patient’s quality of life and reduce the effect of symptoms. There are many scientific studies to prevent West Nile virus from becoming a worldwide public health problem.

How to Avoid West Nile virus?

Batı Nil virüsünün neden olduğu enfeksiyonun bulaşması sivrisinek ısırıkları yoluyla olduğu için, ısırıkların önlenmesi ve ilaçlamalar son derece önemlidir. Gerekirse böcek kovucu kullanmak sivrisinek ısırıklarını önleyeceği için etkili bir yöntemdir. Sivrisineklerin gece beslendikleri göz önüne alındığında, riskli alanlarda uzun kollu giysiler giymek, kapı ve pencereler için sineklik kullanmak ve ıslak alanlardan uzak durmak da olası sivrisinek ısırıklarını önlemede etkili yöntemlerdir.

Ayrıca riskli bölgelere seyahat ettikten sonra kendinizi halsiz, yorgun ve hasta hissediyorsanız, sağlığınızı için doktora görünmeyi ihmal etmeyiniz.

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