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The West Nile Virus Outbreak in Brooklyn and Queens: Symptoms and Treatment

West Nile Virus and Who Is At Risk

Mosquitos carrying West Nile virus were discovered this past July on Staten Island and in Queens, and the city’s first human West Nile virus case of the year was confirmed in August in Brooklyn. West Nile virus usually passes to humans and other animals through mosquito bites, and mosquitos contract it by feeding on infected birds. On rare occasions, the virus can also be passed through blood transfusions or from mother to newborn during delivery or breastfeeding.

West Nile Virus can affect everyone, but as with any viral infection, children and seniors can get hit harder by symptoms. People who spend a lot of time outside due to their jobs or lifestyle are at higher risk due to simply spending more time where infected mosquitoes could be. People should also be wary of large areas of standing water where mosquitos breed. Passing through areas close to mosquito breeding grounds can increase risk of being bitten by an infected insect.

 

Symptoms to Look for and How to Treat Suspected West Nile Virus

Many people who contract West Nile virus will experience no symptoms at all. The most common reaction is a fever that can be accompanied by headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, body aches, and joint pain. However, in some cases West Nile Virus can lead to brain inflammation, or a neurological illness called encephalitis or meningitis. These symptoms include high fever, coma, tremors, seizure, and possibly paralysis.

Although most people who get neurological illness from West Nile Virus recover after several weeks or months, the neurological effects can be permanent and some people do die from West Nile every year. For children, seniors or anyone with medical conditions like kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or recent organ transplants, the risk of developing more severe symptoms is especially high.[1]

Because its symptoms are similar to other fevers and flu, it’s important for residents of Brooklyn, Queens or Staten Island who experience these symptoms after getting a mosquito bite to let a medical professional determine the cause. Urgent care centers like Northwell-GoHealth can quickly assess symptoms like these, test for West Nile virus, and get you started on appropriate treatment as soon as possible, without an appointment.

If you walk into any Northwell-GoHealth New York urgent care center with nausea or fever, your medical professional will start by taking your temperature, asking about any recent events that could be contributing to your illness such as a recent diet or new medications, and inquiring about additional symptoms you might be experiencing. You can also expect a thorough physical examination to help find the underlying cause.

There is no vaccine or antiviral treatment for West Nile virus, but urgent care facilities can address symptoms like nausea, fever and more, which can significantly alleviate discomfort while the virus runs its course. You may be prescribed anti-nausea medication called antiemetics to ease the nausea, or be put on an IV if your symptoms are causing dehydration. If you need medication, you might receive the first dose right at your GoHealth urgent care center to help you feel better right away.

For the percentage who develop neurological illness, hospitalization can often be the best treatment avenue, as well as regular intravenous fluids and pain control medication. And our Northwell affiliation allows us to refer you for the best possible specialist and hospital care, if you need it.

 

[1] [3. “Symptoms & Treatment, “ Feb. 12, 2015, http://www.cdc.gov/westnile/symptoms/ “Symptoms,” Dec. 18, 2012, http://www.mayocenter.org/diseases-conditions/west-nile-virus/basics/sym...

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