The National Academies: What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

The National Academies

What You Need To Know About Infectious Disease

West Nile Virus

West Nile virus (WNV) is a flavivirus commonly found in Africa, West Asia, and the Middle East. The most severe type of disease is sometimes called “neuroinvasive disease” because it affects a person’s nervous system. West Nile fever is another type of illness that can occur in people who become infected with the virus. The virus can infect humans, birds, mosquitoes, horses, and some other mammals. Most often, WNV is spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites an animal or a person. In a very small number of cases, WNV also has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, breastfeeding, and even during pregnancy, from mother to baby. WNV is not spread through casual contact such as touching or kissing a person with the virus.

Symptoms
Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach, and back. Symptoms can last for only a few days, although even healthy people have become sick for several weeks. Approximately 80 percent of people who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

Treatment
There is no specific treatment for WNV infection. In cases with milder symptoms, such as fever and aches, people usually get better on their own, without treatment. In more severe cases, people usually need to go to the hospital, where they can receive supportive treatment, including intravenous fluids, help with breathing, and nursing care.

Prevention
The easiest and best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites. Using an EPA-registered insect repellant and wearing long sleeves or pants can help reduce the chance of being bitten by an infected mosquito. Many mosquitoes are most active during dawn and dusk, so wearing proper protection or avoiding the outdoors during these times can also help. Eliminating mosquitoes by making sure to remove any potential breeding sites, such as standing water from flowerpots, bird baths, pet dishes, buckets, and barrels, is another way to curb infection.

Sources:
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/wnv_factsheet.htm
http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/overview.htm

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What do you know about infectious disease?

Which of the following is needed to help improve the public health situation in developing countries?

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Sorry, that’s incorrect.

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

  • Correct!

    All of the above are urgently needed in developing nations. A major barrier to achieving these improvements is the underlying weakness of health systems in resource-poor countries, including a shortage of health workers and a lack of disease surveillance programs.

Infectious Disease Defined

Nerve Toxin

A toxin that acts specifically on the nervous system.

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