West Nile Virus Infections
Part of: GS Prelims and Mains GS-II- Health
Context: Recently, Russia warned of a possible increase in West Nile Virus (WNV) Infections this autumn as mild temperatures and heavy precipitation create favourable conditions for the mosquitos that carry it.
- It is a member of the flavivirus genus and belongs to the Japanese encephalitis antigenic complex of the family Flaviviridae.
- WNV was first isolated in a woman in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937.
- It was identified in birds in the Nile delta region in 1953. Before 1997, WNV was not considered pathogenic for birds.
- Human infections attributable to WNV have been reported in many countries for over 50 year. WNV is commonly found in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, North America and West Asia.
- WNV is an infectious disease spread by infected mosquitoes. It spreads from birds to humans with the bite of an infected Culex mosquito. It can lead to a fatal neurological disease in humans.
- Those infected usually have no symptoms or mild symptoms.
- The symptoms include a fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph glands. They can last a few days to several weeks, and usually go away on their own.
- If West Nile virus enters the brain, it can be life-threatening. It may cause inflammation of the brain, called encephalitis, or inflammation of the tissue that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, called meningitis.
- There are no specific vaccines or treatments for human WNV disease.
- The best way to avoid WNV is to prevent mosquito bites.