Last year’s outbreak of West Nile virus (WNV) sent residents and officials throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth area scrambling for information and resources to help stop the spread of West Nile virus, which left 89 Texans dead in 2012.
WNV is a mosquito-borne illness that causes flu-like symptoms to occur in infected patients. Though there is no vaccine against WNV, the general prognosis of patients with WNV is typically very good, as only about 1 percent of West Nile cases are severe. According to studies, up to 80 percent of humans infected by WNV see no symptoms, causing a large number of cases to go unreported. However, with summer making its way to North Texas, it’s important to know the signs and symptoms of WNV and when to seek medical or emergency attention.
Symptoms of WNV are often described as flu-like and can include:
- Muscle aches and pains
- Lack of appetite
- Excessive sweating
- Nausea and/or vomiting
These symptoms may appear within one day and up to two weeks from the date of infection by mosquito bite. If a mosquito has bitten you and any symptoms of WNV are present, contact your doctor. Young children, elderly people and those with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions should monitor any symptoms closely and consult a physician immediately if WNV is suspected.
Though the prognosis for the vast majority of WNV cases is good, the virus can lead to West Nile neuroinvasive disease (WNND), a neurological disease affecting the central nervous system. WNND can result in meningitis, encephalitis, meningoencephalitis and poliomyelitis. In addition to the standard symptoms of WNV, people with WNND may experience a stiff neck, altered mental status and acute paralysis. If any of these symptoms are present, the patient should seek immediate medical attention.
If you experience emergency symptoms or suspect you have West Nile virus, head to Highland Park Emergency Center at 5150 Lemmon Ave. Suite 108, a free-standing emergency room right in your neighborhood. Highland Park Emergency Center is open 24-hours a day — the only no-wait emergency room around. An emergency room physician can see you quickly, evaluate your condition, and take steps to alleviate your symptoms immediately.
Highland Park Emergency Center
5150 Lemmon Ave. Suite 108
Dallas, Texas 75209