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Is it the Flu or West Nile Virus?
This is a mosquito-borne virus that causes an infection called West Nile Fever (WNF). Symptoms of WNF include fever, headache, muscle ache, swollen glands in the neck, rash, fatigue and weakness. Basically, it mimics the flu without the cough and stuffy nose.
80% of people who contract this virus won’t even get sick, and the virus will leave them without them even knowing they had it. Only 20% will show the symptoms of WNF.
Very rarely, less than 1% of cases of WNF will worsen into West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease (WNND), which involves meningitis, severe weakness and paralysis. This condition usually only occurs in adults over 50 with compromised immune systems.
The main question for parents and kids is what to do when your child gets a fever and you see mosquito bites. Additionally, how do you know when your child simply has the flu or has West Nile Fever?
If any of these concerns occur after hours, DO NOT CALL YOUR DOCTOR BECAUSE YOU ARE WORRIED THAT IT MIGHT BE WEST NILE. Your doctor won’t be able to run a blood test for this, especially over the phone. If you have all the symptoms of WNF and you see mosquito bites, an emergency room can do a blood test. The problem is, WNF is not treatable. And if the patient doesn’t have the severe WNND, there is really nothing to be done. Most patients with WNF recover without any treatment or complications. Therefore, testing may not even be needed. Of course, symptoms of WNND necessitate an immediate trip to the ER.
You can prevent mosquito exposure by wearing insect repellant, staying indoors at dawn and dusk during mosquito season, avoid stagnant water and empty out all outdoor toys and pots that fill with rainwater.