West Nile Virus – Symptoms and Health Effects {HEALTHY LIVING}

{Mosquito – Image source: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca}

West Nile Virus has been a hot news topic of late, even here in the relatively cooler climate of Canada.  I thought I would take this opportunity to familiarize you with some West Nile Virus facts:

  • Anyone who is exposed to mosquitoes in an area where West Nile virus has been detected is at some degree of risk for infection.
  • Most people who become infected have no symptoms, and do not get sick.
  • When infection does cause illness, symptoms generally appear within two to 15 days.
  • In mild cases, people may have flu-like symptoms, including fever, headache, and body aches. Some may also develop a mild rash, or swollen lymph glands.

Some individuals, including older people, have weaker immune systems. This puts them at greater risk for serious health effects, such as meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain or spinal cord), and encephalitis (inflammation of the brain). In these cases, symptoms could include the rapid onset of:

  • severe headache
  • high fever
  • stiff neck
  • vomiting
  • drowsiness
  • confusion
  • loss of consciousness
  • muscle weakness
  •  paralysis

Severe cases of illness due to West Nile virus can be fatal. Anyone who experiences the sudden onset of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.

The long-term effects of serious cases are not fully understood, but studies to date show that prolonged health problems are possible. These can include:

  • physical effects (long-term muscle weakness and paralysis, fatigue, and headache)
  • cognitive effects (confusion, depression, problems with concentration, and memory loss)
  • functional effects (difficulty with preparing meals, going out, shopping)

Although individuals with weaker immune systems are at greater risk for serious health effects, West Nile Virus can cause severe complications for people of any age and health status.  This is why it is important to reduce your risk of becoming infected.


For more information on West Nile Virus please visit the Health Canada website. Information contained in this post was obtained from Health Canada.



{Disclaimer – The material provided on this site is designed for information and educational purposes only. The materials are not intended to be a self diagnostic and/or self treatment tool. I encourage you to use this information as a tool for discussing your condition and/or concerns with your health practitioner.}


  1. Good things to be aware of, thanks for posting.

    • There seems to be a lot of mosquitos this year Kathy, I was looking up some info and thought I would post it to let everyone know.

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