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Infectious Diseases

West nile virus

11/05/2003

Question:

yes i am asking upon the west nile virus u said it is easier past upon 50 yrs old or order see i am an 11 yr old sixith grader and in the summer i love to stay out till 4 or 5 am with my aunt and i was wondering is it easier for me or her to get it see in the summer time it sometimes gets cold so i do the stuff u have recomened for the virus so is it easier for kids or adults to get it ?????????????

Answer:

Infection with the West Nile virus is transmitted to people from mosquitoes (i.e., when the mosquito bites a person--this is also known as "feeding" or "taking a meal."). Most mosquitoes that become infected with West Nile virus get it because they bite/feed upon birds; birds are much more likely than people to get infected with West Nile virus. Not all mosquitoes are infected with the West Nile virus; only some of them have the virus. When a person is bitten by a mosquito that has the West Nile virus, there is a chance that it will transmit it (pass it on) to that person. Mosquitoes are most likely to be active and bite/feed on people at dusk (the time when the sun sets) and again just before the sun rises. If you are planning on being outside and will potentially be in areas where there are mosquitoes, there are some things that you can do to help prevent mosquito bites. Wearing clothing that covers the skin (long pants, long-sleeved shirts or sweaters, hats over the head) help prevent mosquito bites; also using special insect repellants or sprays may help prevent mosquito bites (you should always talk to an adult about the right kind of insect spray to use before you put it on your body). To answer your question about whether certain people (older people vs.. younger people) are more likely to get infected with the virus, the answer is "No." Anyone who is bitten by a mosquito that has the West Nile virus can possibly become infected. However, older people (i.e., the elderly--over age 65 years old), are more likely to have serious problems from the infection than younger people. Also, people who have difficulty with their immune systems (e.g., persons who have had kidney transplants, liver transplants, heart transplants or other solid organ transplants) may have more serious problems. There is a NetWellness note from Dr. Benita Jackson on August 12 2003 that has much information about West Nile Virus present; it is a good place to look for information. 

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Response by:

Stephen   Kralovic, MD Stephen Kralovic, MD
Associate Professor
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati