West Nile Virus

West Nile Virus is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Emergency Consult.

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Infectious agent is an arbovirus, an RNA member of the Flaviviridae family.


  • Vector-borne virus
  • Transmitted by infected mosquitoes in late summer/early fall
  • Wild birds are primary reservoir hosts; humans are infected by cross-feeding mosquitoes.
  • Introduced to Western Hemisphere in 1999; became more widespread owing to vector of Culex mosquito and is now endemic in North America
  • Infection after blood transfusion and solid-organ transplant can occur.
  • There are case reports of occupational exposure and infection of lab workers via percutaneous inoculation.
  • Following recovery, immunity is considered lifelong. Reoccurrence is rare
  • The 2011 outbreak had a mortality rate of 4–5%. Cases were reported in 48 states.

Pregnancy Considerations
Infection via transplacental transmission and breast-feeding has been reported.

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