Lasting Effects of the West Nile Virus

As we hear about West Nile Virus on the news, it is easy to become complacent. Since 2000, there have been over 40,000 reported cases more than 1,000 deaths. We read that the most susceptible are the elderly and young children, particularly those with weak immune systems. But, what is not fully appreciated is the lasting effects that this virus can have on those that are considered to be relatively healthy.

About one-third of the recorded cases are considered “serious.” Such cases often involve days or even weeks of intensive care hospitalization. Symptoms include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands. Infection may spread to the nervous system or bloodstream and cause sudden fever, intense headache, and stiff neck and confusion, possibly resulting in encephalitis or meningitis.

The symptoms of severe infection ( West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and polio-like paralysis. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, more people will suffer polio-like paralysis from the disease than will die.

The West Nile virus infection spreads by the bite of infected mosquitoes and usually causes a mild illness, but may also cause encephalitis (inflammation of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord). This virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where the virus was first isolated in 1937. It was first identified in the United States in New York in 1999.

Anyone can get West Nile virus infection if bitten by an infected mosquito; however, even in areas where transmission is known to be occurring only a small proportion of mosquitoes are likely to be infected. People who are over age 50 are at greater risk of severe illness.

West Nile virus is almost always spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, but some cases have resulted from blood transfusion and organ transplants.

The Mosquito Curtain is very effective for protecting covered porch areas from mosquitoes. The netting material is made of a sturdy 100% polyester suitable for regular outdoor use. See:

While the netting acts as a physical barrier, the advantage of the curtain is that it is seasonally removable. Many in the north find permanent screen porches difficult to maintain during the winter months. Because the curtain is removable and washable, it can easily be removed and stored during the months when mosquitoes are not prevalent.