West Nile Fever (WNV): Symptoms, Causes, Treatment, Prevention, and More

Medically Reviewed
Steve Hruby
Written by Steve Hruby on May 19, 2022Medically Reviewed by Casey Kestina, MD

West Nile fever is a serious, often deadly illness caused by the West Nile virus. This virus is spread through the bite of an infected mosquito.

The West Nile virus (WNV), is a flavivirus related to the virus family that includes St. Louis encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis, and yellow fever. It is transmitted to humans, horses, and a variety of bird species via an infected mosquito bite.

What are the symptoms of West Nile Fever?

West Nile Virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause serious illness in humans. The most common symptoms of WNV are fever, headache, body aches, and fatigue.

In severe cases, WNV can lead to encephalitis (swelling of the brain), meningitis (inflammation of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord), paralysis, or death. There is no specific treatment for WNV infection, so Treatment centres are working hard to identify people who may be infected and provide them with protection against the virus.

People older than 60 are more likely to develop severe symptoms if they are infected. Persons with specific medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney damage, and organ transplant recipients, are also at a higher risk.

What causes West Nile fever?

West Nile fever is caused by the West Nile virus (WNV) which is highly contagious. It can be spread through the bite of an infected mosquito. The disease can cause severe flu-like symptoms. There is no specific cure for West Nile fever, but treatment focuses on relieving symptoms and preventing further transmission.

How is West Nile Fever treated?

West Nile Fever is a serious viral illness. There is no specific treatment for everyone, so the best option for treating West Nile Fever will vary depending on the person’s symptoms and health history. Some people may only require rest and hydration.

Over-the-counter pain medications can diminish mild aches and headaches in some circumstances.

If a person experiences severe symptoms such as high fever, chest pain, or neck stiffness, they should consult their doctor immediately.

Treatment with interferon:

Interferon is a protein that is produced by the body in response to viral infection. It helps to protect cells from viral infection and destruction, and also helps the body’s immune system to fight the infection. Interferon has been shown to be effective in the treatment of West Nile Fever, both in humans and animals. It works by binding to receptors on the surface of cells, which causes the cells to produce more interferon. This helps to protect the cells from viral infection, and also helps the immune system to fight the virus.

How can you prevent West Nile Fever?

Prevention of the West Nile Virus is key to reducing the spread of this mosquito-borne disease. There are a few things that you can do to help protect yourself from West Nile Virus: 

  1. The best way to prevent West Nile Virus is by avoiding getting bitten by mosquitoes. If you do get bitten, expect to experience a fever and body aches. These symptoms usually last about a week. 
  2. Use an EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET: An EPA-registered insect repellent with DEET (diethyl ether amine) is the most effective way to prevent West Nile Virus. Apply it generously 30 minutes before going outside and re-apply it every two hours if you are in direct sunlight or high humidity. Do not apply it below the neck or on infants less than 2 months old.

What do yellow fever and West Nile virus have in common?

  • Both diseases are spread by mosquitoes.
  • Both diseases cause severe head and body aches, fever, and joint pain.
  • Both diseases can be fatal if left untreated.


In conclusion, it is important to be aware of the risk of West Nile fever and take precautions to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. If you think you may have contracted West Nile fever, see a doctor.

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Medically Reviewed
Steve Hruby
Written by Steve Hruby on May 19, 2022Medically Reviewed by Casey Kestina, MD

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