Season of West Nile virus: What you need to know about the spread, symptoms, and ways to stop it

Season of West Nile virus: Whether you are aware of it or not, mosquitoes have arrived for the summer, and in addition to their irritating, itchy bites, they also carry the risk of disease, particularly the West Nile virus (WNV).

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the West Nile virus has emerged as the nation’s most common vector-borne disease since its first appearance in 1999.

According to the most recent information that was posted on the CDC’s website on Sunday, June 18, 13 infections had been reported as of June 13 across the United States.

According to the CDC’s website, the West Nile virus, a flavivirus that belongs to the same family as yellow fever, dengue fever, Japanese encephalitis, and the Zika virus, is typically spread when Culex mosquitoes bite infected birds before biting humans and other animals.

Neither eating or handling infected animals or birds nor engaging in physical contact, coughing, or sneezing can spread the virus.

Dr. Christian Sandrock, division vice chief of internal medicine at UCDavis Medical Center in Sacramento, California, says that one of the most common misconceptions about the virus is that humans are natural hosts or that they spread disease.

In an email to Fox News Digital, he stated, “Humans and horses are accidentally infected.” We can become infected with this disease, but we are not part of the host cycle because it mostly affects birds.

Although it is extremely uncommon, a very small number of cases have occurred in which the virus was passed from mother to child during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding, or through an organ transplant or blood transfusion.

The CDC states on its website that the vast majority of people who contract WNV, roughly 80%, will not experience any symptoms.

MOSQUITOES IN HIGH TEMPERATURE: In an email to Fox News Digital, Dr. George Thompson, a professor of medicine at UCDavis Medical Center in Sacramento, explained, “These people would only know there were previously infected if blood antibodies were checked.”

A fever, body aches, headaches, joint pain, diarrhea, rash, and/or vomiting are all symptoms of febrile illness, which affects one in five people. Usually, these symptoms go away on their own, but after an infection, some people may continue to feel weak and tired for months.

According to the CDC’s website, the virus can occasionally cause serious conditions affecting the nervous system, such as encephalitis (brain inflammation) or meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord), which affects about one in every 150 people who are infected.

When there is a viral infection of the central nervous system, those who develop a serious illness may experience a headache, stiff neck, high fever, disorientation, vision loss, muscle weakness, convulsions, tremors, coma, or paralysis.

“It is possible to experience persistent symptoms that may resemble long-term COVID.”

According to Sandrock, individuals who exhibit personality changes or weakness in the legs and arms should seek immediate medical attention.

For the first time in the US, a ringworm is resistant to common antifungals: What You Need to Know About the Skin Infection “It is possible to get some prolonged symptoms that can look like long COVID,” he admonished.

Around 10% of people with this invasive form of the disease will pass away.

Although anyone can get sick badly, people over 60, people who have had organ transplants, people with diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, kidney disease, immune disorders, and other medical conditions are at the highest risk.

Dr. Marc Siegel, a Fox News medical contributor and professor of medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Fox News Digital, “The effects of the virus can be quite serious in the elderly.”

Treatment and diagnosis According to the CDC, individuals who believe they may have been infected with WNV should have their symptoms evaluated by a medical professional.

The evaluation of symptoms, recent exposure to mosquitoes, and testing of blood or spinal fluid can all be used to make a diagnosis of the infection.


Medical care suppliers will regularly suggest treating side effects with over-the-counter agony prescriptions and getting a lot of rest and liquids.

Patients with severe illnesses may require hospitalization for supportive care.

West Nile virus prevalence Every year since the first case in 1999, the virus has been present in the United States. According to the CDC, the number of cases fluctuates annually, ranging from 21 in 2000 to 9,862 in 2003.

Between 2013 and 2018, annual cases remained relatively stable at between 2,000 and 2,600, after a spike to 5,674 in 2012.

They fell to 971 in 2019 and 731 in 2020 before regaining their previous high of 2,911 in 2021.

In 2022, there were 1,126 infections.

Sandrock stated to Fox News Digital, “It’s hard to tell if it will get worse.” However, the increase in sampling is the result of a combination of climate change and increased rainfall, particularly in the western United States, as well as mosquito abatement practices, of which there are fewer due to funding constraints and a decreased focus on public health.”

“In the elderly, the effects of the virus can be very serious.”

According to Thompson, an expert in infectious diseases, another theory is that during the wetter seasons, when there is a greater number of mosquitoes, there are more cases.

“The dynamics are more complex than this, however — the amount of virus circulating in birds and even the current temperature are significant factors affecting the burden of disease,” he added. To subscribe to our health newsletter, click here.

Best preventative measures According to Siegel, the number of mosquitoes generally limits the number of infections.

He stated that counties are using drones to apply larvicide to unoccupied marshes in some parts of California to reduce the number of mosquitoes.

Dr. Siegel stated, “In terms of effectiveness, environmental impact, and impact on wildlife, this approach is much safer than going after adult mosquitoes.”


Shy of lessening the mosquito populace, Siegel said the best methods of insurance are to utilize bug spray, wear long sleeves and abstain from going close to standing waterways, like lakes, lakes or supplies, where mosquitoes will generally raise.

“Be sure to wear long sleeves and use DEET during these times in July and August, which are the worst months,” Sandrock continued. “Mosquitoes bite at dawn and dusk.”