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Testing and Treatment


I think I have symptoms of West Nile virus. What should I do?

Contact your health care provider if you have concerns about your health. If you or your family members develop symptoms such as high fever, confusion, muscle weakness, and severe headaches, you should see your doctor immediately.

How do health care providers test for West Nile virus?

Your physician will first take a medical history to assess your risk for West Nile virus. People who live in or traveled to areas where West Nile virus activity has been identified are at risk of getting West Nile encephalitis; persons older than 50 years of age have the highest risk of severe disease. If you are determined to be at high risk and have symptoms of West Nile encephalitis, your provider will draw a blood sample and send it to a commercial or public health laboratory for confirmation.

How is West Nile encephalitis treated?

There is no specific treatment for West Nile virus infection. In more severe cases, intensive supportive therapy is indicated, often involving hospitalization, intravenous fluids, airway management, respiratory support (ventilator), prevention of secondary infections (pneumonia, urinary tract, etc.), and good nursing care.

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