AND FACTS ABOUT WEST NILE VIRUS
- What is West Nile virus?
- How do people and animals get West Nile virus?
- What are the symptoms of West Nile virus in people?
- Which animals get West Nile virus?
- West Nile Virus Protection & Control
- What is the California West Nile Surveillance Program?
- What do I do if I see a dead bird?
What is West Nile virus?
West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne virus that has been found in
parts of Asia, eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. The virus was
first detected in the United States (U.S.) in 1999 in New York City.
The majority of people and
animals that are infected with the virus have a mild illness or no
symptoms. In rare cases, the virus can cause a more serious condition
called encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain. The elderly are at a
higher risk for disease caused by WNV. In 2002, a total of over 44 states
reported WN virus activity and over 4000 human cases were reported
including over 250 deaths.
In California, one human
case of locally-acquired WNV was found in Los Angeles County. Further WNV
activity was not found in the state in 2002.
How do people and
animals get West Nile Virus?
WNV is transmitted to people and animals by infected mosquitoes. Only
certain species of mosquitoes carry the virus and very few mosquitoes are
actually affected. A mosquito first acquires the infection by feeding on a
bird with virus in its blood. The virus lives in the mosquito and is
transmitted to a new host in the mosquito's saliva when the insect bites
into a person or animal. The virus is most prevalent from May to October
when mosquitoes are most abundent.
of WNV generally does not occur. However, human WNV infection was
associated with blood transfusions and organ transplants from infected
donors in 2002.
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