Nile fever, also known as West Nile disease, is an infectious disease caused by the mosquito bite of the genus Culex infected by the West Nile virus, which is responsible for the disease. Despite being infrequent, Nile fever happens more easily among the elderly, because they have a more compromised immune system, which makes infection and the development of signs and symptoms of the disease easier.
Symptoms of Nile fever can appear about 14 days after the bite of the infected mosquito and can vary from a passing fever to meningitis, in which the virus reaches and ignites the membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord, in which case the person experiencing muscle pain, headache and stiff neck.
Symptoms of Nile fever
Most cases of Nile fever do not lead to the appearance of significant signs or symptoms, however when the person has a weakened immune system, as is the case of children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases, it is possible to notice the appearance of symptoms within 14 days after infection with the virus, the main ones being:
- Great weight loss;
- Pain in the eyes;
- Pain in muscles or joints;
- Red spots on the skin with bubbles, in some cases;
- Excessive tiredness;
- Muscle weakness.
In more severe cases, when the disease is not identified and treated or when the person has the most compromised immune system, it is possible that the virus reaches the nervous system and leads to complications such as encephalitis, polio and meningitis, mainly, which is characterized by stiff neck. Know how to recognize the symptoms of meningitis.
How the diagnosis is made
The diagnosis of Nile fever is made by the general practitioner or infectious disease by assessing the signs and symptoms presented by the person, in addition to the results of blood tests, especially serological tests, which aim to identify the presence of antigens and antibodies against virus.
In addition, a blood count is recommended by the doctor, in which normally in these cases a decrease in the number of lymphocytes and hemoglobin is observed, in addition to the measurement of C-reactive protein (CRP) and CSF evaluation, especially if meningitis is suspected.
Depending on the symptoms, the doctor may indicate the performance of imaging exams to assess the severity of the disease, and it is recommended to perform computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging.
How the treatment is done
There is still no vaccine or specific treatment to treat Nile fever or to effectively eliminate the virus from the body, and so the treatment recommended by the doctor serves to alleviate the symptoms related to the disease, and the use of Paracetamol and Metoclopramide may be indicated, for example, which should be taken according to the doctor's recommendation.
In the most severe cases, hospitalization may be necessary, so that adequate monitoring is carried out and treatment with serum in the vein is carried out to hydrate, and it may also be necessary to use machines to help the person breathe.
Created by: Tua Saúde Editorial Team
- MINISTRY OF HEALTH. West Nile Fever: causes, symptoms, treatment, diagnosis and prevention. Available in: . Accessed on Mar 12, 2020
- REGIONAL COUNCIL OF VETERINARY MEDICINE OF THE STATE OF SÃO PAULO. Nile fever: OIE reports case in horse in São Paulo. Available in: . Accessed on 10 Nov 2020