West Nile Virus Can Cause Lifelong Symptoms

West Nile Virus Map 2007WebMD (on CBS) is reporting that a new study on West Nile Virus has found that one out of every 150 people infected suffer from severe nuerological disease. Of those about 40% have serious symptoms such as difficulty walking, memory loss and depression that they may deal with for the rest of their lives.

One in 150 people infected with West Nile virus get severe neurological disease. More than 40% of these patients may have serious symptoms for the rest of their lives, say Kristy Murray, PhD, DVM, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and colleagues.

The finding comes from five years of data on 108 Houston-area residents who came down with severe West Nile disease after infection with the mosquito-borne virus. Murray’s team evaluated the patients every six months.

A year after their West Nile virus infection, 60% of these patients still had serious symptoms. Five years later, 42% had not fully recovered – and weren’t getting any better.

These lasting symptoms included fatigue, muscle weakness, depression, difficulty walking, memory loss, and personality change.

These findings show that WNV is a very serious disease. People should continue to take precautions and avoid mosquito bites as much as possible during the mosquito season. WNV is still infecting thousands of people in the United States each year. 3,598 people were infected with West Nile Virus in 2007 and 121 were killed.

Graphic above is from the CDC’s 2007 WNV incidence map.

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