Not for humans yet, but there may be one or more vaccines available in the next few years. Research is ongoing. Vaccines for other flaviviruses, such as yellow fever, have been available for about 70 years and have well-established safety and efficacy records, so researchers are optimistic that a solution can be found.
2. What can I do to protect against West Nile virus?
You can protect yourself from WNV by protecting against mosquito bites. Preventive measures include using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved clothing and pants when outdoors, staying indoors at dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active, and 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.
3. Are people who have no symptoms ever tested for WNV?
Testing is usually not done for asymptomatic people, but when a blood or organ recipient becomes infected with WNV, both IgM and IgG antibodies may be ordered on the donor (who is frequently asymptomatic) to help determine whether he was the source of the infection.
Similarly, if a breastfeeding baby contracts WNV, the mother will likely be tested to determine whether the infection may have passed to the baby through the mother's milk (a rare but documented event).
Yes. There is no risk for the donor, and WNV nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) have been added to the list of extensive testing that is done to make the U.S. blood supply as safe as it can possibly be for the recipients. As an additional tool in reducing WNV in the blood supply, blood collection centers have recently started asking potential donors during WNV season if they have had a recent fever or headache (symptoms of an infection with WNV or other virus).
This article was last reviewed on June 13, 2014. | This article was last modified on December 16, 2015.
The review date indicates when the article was last reviewed from beginning to end to ensure that it reflects the most current science. A review may not require any modifications to the article, so the two dates may not always agree.
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