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West Nile Virus Essay

2205 words - 9 pages

An estimated 80% of people with West Nile Virus are asymptomatic (Sejavar, 2014). This is explained by the disease’s nature of attack on the host’s immune system and how much the host can handle as a result. Another reason is due to the different strains of West Nile Virus and how virulent they are (Jeha & Sila, 2009). A large percentage of the patients that develop symptoms due to WNV suddenly develop a congenital, fiery fever in other words known as West Nile Fever (WNF) (Jeha & Sila, 2009). Another significant complication caused by WNV as seen in about 1% of the population that gets infected is illness affecting nerve organs which is caused by the invasive nature of the disease which ruptures areas of the Central Nervous System causing infection in these structures (Sejvar, 2014). Neurologic invasion is usually seen several days after the onset of the systemic illness. The most common symptoms include; headache, altered level of consciousness, and focal weakness seen in different variations (Sejvar, 2014). Some of the neuroinvasive diseases caused by WNV are; encephalitis, meninigitis and acute flaccid paralysis (Sejvar, 2014). The inflammation of the connective tissue layers of the brain otherwise known as West Nile Meningitis is the largest contributor of neuroinvasive disease in the younger age groups of those infected with WNV. West Nile Encephalitis is more common in the older and immunosuppressed population. West Nile Encephalitis is a viral infection of the brain parenchyma itself. West Nile Poliomyelitis also develops as a result of WNV and it is characterized by the presence of fever, meningitis and flaccid paralysis and it affects part of the spinal cord causing major complications (Sejvar, 2014). It is important to understand these different disease manifestations since West Nile Virus does not often have a clear clinical picture. Most times, the clinical pictures of WNM, WNF and WNE overlap. For example, patients may display signs and symptoms that would seem plausible with WNM, WNE and WNF but the diagnosis could be missed due to the clinical picture of these complications not being very specific and clear. Similarities of these symptoms compared to other diseases like meningitis not caused by WNV, altered mental status due to other systemic illnesses and inflammation as a result of a different condition could also lead to misdiagnosis or a diagnosis of any of the above complications being missed. However, these limitations do not stop diagnosis of WNV based upon clinical grounds (Sejvar, 2014).

The number one prevalent clinical ailment in most infected people is West Nile Fever (WNF). Despite all age groups being affected, data suggests that the prevalence of WNF is higher among younger individuals with fever and neck stiffness being absent sometimes (Varta, 2013).WNF has an incubation period of 2-14 days, and infected individuals usually experience a sudden onset of fever, headache, fatigue, and myalgia. Dehydration...

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