West Nile Virus: New threat to the human life

The mosquitoes are going deadliest with West Nile Virus

The mosquitoes are going deadliest with West Nile Virus

The humanity has been found in danger many times in the history of the world. But then it was the humans themselves threatening humanity and the idea of brotherhood then saved the planet. Now, again the humanity is in danger and no talk of brotherhood seems to be of any help. As this time it is the Mosquitoes who has planned to kill the humans. In fact, they are the biggest threat to humanity these days. It seems that mosquitoes have sensed that the medical industry has found a cure for Malaria, Dengue, and Chikungunya. For this reason, they have come up with a new set of virus (called West Nile Virus) that is deadly and science is still on its way to discover the vaccines and treatment.

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Well, this new set of the virus has not born yesterday. It has a long history of existence. As per the WHO reports, this virus first appeared in the Nile District of Uganda in 1937. This virus was found in the birds in the West Nile delta region in 1953. Before 1997, this virus killed many bird species presenting signs of encephalitis and paralysis. Further, in 1999, this virus circulated in Israel and Tunisia and was imported to the United States. The spread of this virus throughout America highlighted that importation and establishment of vector-borne pathogens outside their current habitat represent a serious danger to the world. Currently, the virus has occupied the air in Africa, Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, Canada and the United States.

What is West Nile Virus?

The West Nile Virus is an arbovirus of the Flavivirus kind. It belongs to the family of Flaviviridae. It is the bite of a mosquito that transmits the Nile Virus to the body of an animal, human and bird. Generally, the mosquitoes get the virus after biting the infected bird which latter gets transmitted to the human body. However, all the people bitten by the infected mosquito will not get the infection as the reaction is entirely dependent on their immune system.

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For this reason, the people over the age of 50 years and one with a weak immune system face the severe diseases caused by the virus. As per the research, the West Nile Virus can cause a fatal neurological disease and paralysis in the living beings. In the cases where symptoms become visible without the neurological disease or paralysis is termed as West Nile Fever. If the infection or fever is diagnosed and treated early then the recovery of the patient is recorded ‘good’ by the National Institute of health. 

Transmission of the Virus

The transmission of the virus is possible through mosquitoes bite. However, mosquitoes are not the prime reservoir host of the virus. It is the birds that are the prime reservoir host of the virus. It is when the mosquito bites the infected bird, the virus gets into their salivary gland. Later the virus gets injected into uninfected humans, animals, and birds. This is how the virus spreads and gets multiplied. Apart from the mosquito bite, any contact with the infected animals, their blood or their tissues can also be the reason for transmission. Besides, a very small proportion got the infection through organ transplantation, blood transfusion, and breast milk. Till date, no case has been recorded of human-to-human transmission of the virus through casual contact.

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Symptoms of the West Nile Virus

Considering the symptoms, the severity varies from patient to patient. As per the data of the health department, in 80% of the cases, the infections shows few or no symptoms. Barely 20% of the infected patients have developed the West Nile Fever. The incubation period is typical between 2 to 15 days and headache is a common occurrence. Therefore, knowing the virus and diseases caused by it in detail becomes important. For that reason, here is the list of caused problems and their symptoms:

  • West Nile Fever (WNF): WNF has occurred only in 20% of the cases and has flu-like symptoms. To be more specific, headache, chills, weakness, pain in joints, excessive sweating, fatigue, swollen lymph nodes, drowsiness, nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and vomiting are the visible symptoms.
  • West Nile Neuroinvasive Disease (WNND): Well, this is the rarest of the rare case that happens when the virus infects the central nervous system. The patient with WNND develops abnormalities in various cerebral areas including thalamus, cerebellum, basal ganglia and brainstem
  • West Nile Virus Encephalitis (WNE): It is the common neuroinvasive manifestation and shows symptoms such as fever, headache, muscular weakness, flaccid paralysis, hyporeflexia, lower motor neuron and altered mental status. 
  • West Nile Meningitis (WNM): This usually involves fever, headache, and neck stiffness. Moreover, an increase in white blood cell is also witnessed.
  • West Nile Meningoencephalitis (WNM): In this case, an inflammation is experienced in the brain (encephalitis) and meninges (meningitis).
  • West Nile Poliomyelitis (WNP): It is a stage of an acute flaccid paralysis. This paralysis can occur in the absence of fever, headache, or any other common symptoms.
  • West Nile Reversible Paralysis:  In this case, the weakness or the paralysis is asymmetric. 
  • NonNeurologic Complications: This is a rare case. Still, the symptoms of this are hepatitis, nephritispancreatitis, fulminant, myocarditis, cardiac dysrhythmias, optic neuritis, rhabdomyolysis, orchitis, and chorioretinitis.
  • Cutaneous ManifestationThis implies to the rashes. However, the rashes are not common in the case of West Nile Virus. Still, in some cases, histopathologic findings had shown a sparse superficial perivascular lymphocytic infiltrate which is commonly seen in viral exanthems.

Well, the aforementioned are the type of diseases or infection the West Nile Virus can cause. However, it is estimated that only 1 patient out of 150 infected patients develops a more severe form of a disease. The severe symptoms can occur in a person of any age. However, the people with the weak immune system and over the age of 50 are at the highest risk. 

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Diagnosis of the West Nile Virus

In most instances, the doctor diagnoses the virus by analyzing blood samples. In case, the patient develops severe brain related disease, the doctor then prescribed a lumbar puncture (also known as the spinal tap). The other tests available to diagnose the presence of virus in the body are:

  • IgG antibody seroconversion (or significant increase in antibody titers): In this, the two serial specimens is collected at a one-week interval by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • IgM antibody capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA)
  • Neutralisation Assays
  • Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Assay
  • Virus isolation by cell culture

Treatment and Vaccine for the West Nile Virus

To safeguard the humans, Science is still on its way to find a vaccine. However, the vaccines are available to cure horses. Besides, any human identified with neuroinvasive West Nile virus is often hospitalized, given fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections. 

Prevention is better than cure

As we all know that the infection is deadly, moreover, it is painful and tortures. Therefore, opting preventional methods is the best way to maintain distance. This can be done by following these simple tips:

  • Use EPA-registered repellents on the skin to repel mosquitoes. 
  • Those who use sunscreen lotion can apply the lotion first and the repellent latter. 
  • The best idea is to wear full sleeves clothes, long pants etc. No body part should be exposed to the mosquito bite. 
  • Use either the permethrin- containing repellent (Do read the cautious part before use) or any other repellent on the shoes, clothes, tents etc. This will keep the mosquitoes away.
  • Sleep under an insecticide- treated bed net
  • Never let the water stay for long in any material. this will stop mosquitoes breeding. 
  • Stay indoors at the peak time (dawn and dusk)

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The final statement

The West Nile Virus is the new threat to humanity and humanity is not limited to the mankind. As we know that the birds are the primary host of the virus, taking care of the animals and birds around becomes equally important. As per the latest records, Horses, like the humans are the ‘dead-end’ hosts. They do not spread the infection, but the cases of death are more in horses. The medical industry has developed a vaccine for the treatment of the horse. Therefore, any human, animal or bird if suspected of the infection, rush them to the doctor immediately. 

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Shubhi Saini

Shubhi Saini is a thinker and a writer. She lives with the belief that illness first come emotionally and then attack the body. So, to make people emotionally healthy and physically stronger, she is all set to share her thoughts with you all.

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