West Nile virus disease

Latest update: - Authors: Mieke Croughs, Ula Maniewski-Kelner

West Nile virus disease is caused by a virus that is transmitted by various types of mosquitoes. These mosquitoes bite mainly in the evening and night. The virus mainly infects migrating birds and mammals, but humans can also be infected. The risk of infection is very low.

The infection usually does not cause any symptoms. Flu-like symptoms sometimes occur, such as:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Skin rash
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Skin rash.

In rare cases, a severe brain infection or meningitis occurs. These severe symptoms are more common in people over the age of 50 years.

Risk areas

West Nile virus occurs in America, Africa, West Asia, the Middle East and some Southeast European countries, such as Greece, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Serbia.

The large majority of reports are received from North America and Canada. 

Prevention

Mosquito bites

Protect yourself against mosquito bites from dusk through to sunrise.

Vaccination

There is no vaccine available. 

In case of symptoms

Seek medical advice if you suffer any symptoms. You should seek urgent medical advice if you develop a fever, to rule out serious infections.

Use only paracetamol and not aspirin.

Call the travel assistance insurance during your trip for advice on reliable medical facilities.

You can contact your general practitioner or a specialised clinic after returning home. Make sure to state in which country you were staying. 

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