West Nile Virus

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Prevention and Treatment

Prevention of WNV depends upon protecting against mosquito bites by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants when outdoors, staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and by eliminating standing water sources that attract mosquitoes. Communities also take preventive measures by monitoring the seasonal risks and movement of WNV and spraying for mosquitoes as warranted.

Treatment for West Nile Virus infection currently is focused on symptom management. In severe cases, hospitalization may be required.

No vaccine or drug treatment is available at this time, although research is ongoing and several experimental vaccines and antiviral therapies are showing promise. Vaccines for other flaviviruses, such as yellow fever, have been available for about 70 years and have well-established safety and efficacy records. A new vaccine was recently developed by mixing West Nile Virus with the vaccine for yellow fever, thus altering the proteins coating the established vaccine. This new vaccine has been successfully tested on animals and is now being tested in humans.

Another possible West Nile Virus vaccine has been developed and undergone some initial testing. This vaccine involves the use of an inactive protein (instead of a live virus) and would have the advantage of being able to be given to anyone, potentially even children and those who are pregnant or immunosuppressed.

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