West Nile Virus – An Overview

West Nile Virus Abatement

Preparing for the West Nile Virus could be important for the health of your family and community.

Contact River Region Pest Control for West Nile Virus Abatement services in Montgomery, Alabama.

What Is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus in Montgomery, Alabama - Nile River in Uganda
River Nile scenery near Jinja in Uganda.

The West Nile Virus made headlines in 2002 when it spread throughout the United States and caused several hundred deaths.

Since then, it has been a major concern in parts of the U.S. that have large mosquito populations. The disease can be fatal, but for many, there are no symptoms at all.

Origin and History

The West Nile virus was identified in 1937 in Uganda.

Since then, cases have commonly been reported in Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia. The first major outbreak outside of Africa was reported in Israel during the 1950s.

Later, an epidemic was reported in 1962 in Europe.

In 1999, the first case of West Nile was reported in the United States in New York. Since then, over 40,000 cases have been reported, and there have been more than 1,700 deaths.

The Center for Disease Control has noted that West Nile cases have been reported in 44 different states and Washington, D.C. About half of all cases in the U.S. have been reported in six states (California, Colorado, Illinois, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Texas).

The West Nile virus can be found in mosquitoes, birds, humans, and other animals.

How it Spreads

Culex Pipiens - vector of West Nile in Montgomery, Alabama
Culex pipiens on grass

West Nile spreads via mosquitoes.

The primary type of mosquito that carries it is the Culex pipiens, but it can be carried by several other types, too. Mosquitoes themselves are infected from feeding off of birds. These birds may become sick or even die from the virus, but some show very few symptoms at all.

Crows are a common carrier, although in the U.S., sparrows often serve as hosts to the disease. Once a mosquito has become infected, it can pass the virus on to people and other animals.

The standard incubation time for West Nile is anywhere from five to 15 days.

West Nile Symptoms

Symptoms of West Nile can greatly vary from person to person.

Many have only fairly mild symptoms that include body aches, fever, and headaches. A skin rash or swollen lymph nodes are also somewhat common.

Those who have more severe infections may experience headache, stiffness in their neck, high fever, drowsiness, and disorientation. The most severe symptoms include tremors, convulsions, coma, and paralysis.

In very rare occasions, death occurs. Those who have West Nile may also come down with related encephalitis or meningitis, prolonging their recuperation period.

Some long term effects can occur, including depression, memory loss, confusion, and irritability. These residual symptoms usually vanish after some time.


West Nile Virus is confirmed by a blood test or cerebro-spinal fluid test.

There is no treatment for the virus, but the symptoms can be treated. Because the West Nile can affect the brain, doctors often begin therapy to prevent inflammation or other issues.

Fluids and anti-inflammatory medications may be needed for more serious cases, while over-the-counter medications may be enough to handle mild cases.

Prevention of West Nile Virus

Many of the prevention techniques for West Nile involve monitoring the bird population.

If many appear to be diseased or dying, medical authorities need to be alerted because there could be a West Nile outbreak.

Mosquito spraying can also help, although because mosquitoes can be so difficult to control, an outbreak is still possible.

Contact River Region Pest Control if you’re concerned about Mosquito-borne diseases.