West Niles Virus (WNV) is zoonotic arbo virus caused by mosquitos as dead end vector hosts. The main types of mosquito which transmit this virus to humans are Culex pipiens, Culex quinque fasciatus and Culex tarsalis. The virus is classified in 4th group of ssRNA in unassigned order. It belongs to Flaviviridae family and genus of Flavivirus. The species of this type is called West Nile virus from its origin place in Nile. Its symptoms are mostly seen with encephalitis, headache, meningitis and meningoencephalitis. WNV is preventable and curable disease mostly found in the West African countries. This is an epidemic disease which can kill people if broke out in any regions due to mosquito bites.
Spread and Symptoms
West Niles Virus is mostly spread by the female mosquito which gets infected blood from the birds and animals. This is transmitted to humans by mosquito bites. The WNY is also indirectly spread by consuming meat of infected animal and birds, since its blood carries this virus and will last longer in meat. WNV is also spread through infected blood transfusions to patients from infected person’s blood. This is also seen in cases of organ transplants when the donor is an infected person. WNV also spreads from a mother to infants by breast feeding. This may be transmitted by having sex with the infected person, since saliva and other body fluids carry West Niles Virus in humans. The symptoms of WNV are pain in the eyes, fever, body aches, swollen lymph glands, back pain, nausea , Skin rash, fatigue and vomiting. In severe cases it leads to neuroinvasive disease, here the patient may be paralyzed and enter into coma.
Prevention and Cure
Self help is the only way to prevent this virus from infecting. Educating others about how to safeguard self and others from the mosquito bites is one of the options to prevent the spread of this virus. During the mosquito season, a few important safety measures must be adopted like wearing proper clothes and proofing your home against insects. Always wear a full sleeve shirt and full pants in the winter season, since winter is the main season for mosquitoes. Also wear socks and gloves on your legs and hands. Home proofing against insects must be taken care of; meshes can be installed at a cheaper rate. Insect screens are commonly used as insect protectors on windows, doors and ventilators. Also use mosquito nets in the bedroom. Applying mosquito repellent or rubbing of herbal lotion while at home or going out will also help. It is essential to make sure that outside your home there is no scope for water contamination. There is no known cure for the WNV disease. So far no effective vaccine is developed for WNV. Only supportive drug therapies are available like treating the patients with intravenous fluids. All pain related symptoms are treated with over the counter pain relievers. Proper nursing care must be provided to the patients.
Research and Development
There are many research and developmental activities going on in various countries to curb WNV. These activities are conducted in the fields of antibiotics, research studies, virology, education and awareness by various pharmacy majors, health departments in coordination with W.H.O. and by various research institutes. Till now only animal tests are undergoing and drugs are found effective on animals. They are tested on horses, cats and dogs. The ATCvet is the latest developed drug which was tested on horses and found effective. Its code is QI05AA10 and AMD3100. The stage II clinical test knows as the Chimerivax-WNV is carried out on animals. This can be an effective vaccine for WNV for humans, since it is tested ok with all kinds of animals and found without any side effects. There is also a group of virologist trying to develop a few drugs such as Morpholino and alpha interferon to treat the disease in the initial stages.
History of West Niles
The first case of West Niles Virus was reported from Uganda in the West Nile territory. Since then this disease was named from its origin place as West Niles Virus (WNV). Here it was seen in a 37 years old lady, who was a local resident of Omogo in West Nile. In central Africa it was miraculously found while testing for the yellow fever cases. 1.4 % of tested samples were found positive in Congo, the Nile territory had a 46.6% positive cases. A few cases were also reported from Sudan. This encouraged the scientists to do a research study on WNV all over the world. Since 1942 to 1950 it was reported in Egypt and soon within a decade it spread up to the Middle East. Since then it was a commonly known disease in animals, since its presence was found in the test results of domesticated cattle and pet animals. The recent outbreak as epidemic was reported from Algeria in 1994. In Romania it took a year to control this epidemic in 1997. Since 1999 to 2007 many cases were reported from Canada. The recent outbreak was seen in Greece in 2010. This was a common disease in horses in Morocco, USA, France and Mexico from 1996 to 2011.
West Niles Virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. Governmental bodies and health departments must spray germ killer chemicals in stagnated waters and smoke out mosquitoes by killer fumes in the residential areas. Since WNV, when contracted, never shows any symptoms for a long time, this is diagnosed at a later stage among 80% of the infected peoples. The advanced stage is treated as WNY after confirming it through lab test findings. The advanced stage is neurologic illness and if not treated properly it may lead to death of the infected person. This is a curable disease and there is no effective vaccine to treat it totally or use it as a precautionary vaccine. Since, its symptoms may not be as severe during initial stages; it is advisable to consult with a physician and when any doubt of WNV. If you live in a mosquito prone zone, take care of yourself by adopting preventive ways. This is the only way to be safe from the West Niles Virus infections.