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The West Nile Virus Mosquito

Over 3,000 species of mosquitoes are found worldwide, and 120 are found in the United States. Mosquitoes are an annoyance because of their parasitic nature. They also can be a serious health hazard due to their ability to transmit blood-borne parasites that cause disease. More on this website
West Nile virus is a new member or “emergent” to the virus of the family. West Nile Virus is found in both tropical and temperate regions. Because of this, it is a dangerous and worldwide killer. The Virus mainly infects birds but can also affect humans, horses, and other mammals. Bites spread the Virus from infected mosquitoes.

In most cases, eight percent of people infected with the virus have none of the symptoms. In the other, approximately twenty percent of the virus causes mild symptoms resembling the flu. These symptoms are known as West Nile. The virus is highly capable and able to pass through the blood-brain barrier. The most serious effects of West Nile Virus are encephalitis and meningitis. Both of these diseases can result in death. People over fifty are at a greater risk of developing severe disease. The symptoms include nausea, fever, stiff neck and changes in mental status.

Symptoms of West Nile Virus will develop three to fifteen days after the initial infection. Currently, there is no known effective treatment to the virus. West Nile can be diagnosed by employing an ELISA test to detect IgM antibodies that develop due to the virus.

The disease normally starts in an infected bird. A female mosquito will bite a bird who then carries the virus in her salivary glands. If she bites another bird, they will become affected by the virus, and the disease continues to spread in that fashion.