How are West Nile virus (WNV) infection and encephalitis (WNE) treated?

Updated: Apr 05, 2021
  • Author: David J Cennimo, MD, FAAP, FACP, AAHIVS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Treatment of West Nile encephalitis (WNE) consists of prevention, followed then by supportive care. The mainstay of prevention is limiting personal mosquito-bite exposure. Mosquito netting and barrier protection are most helpful and may be augmented by mosquito repellents.

Initially, it is important to exclude herpes simplex virus (HSV) encephalitis among the differential diagnoses, as this is the only viral encephalitis for which there is a treatment, and prompt intervention will likely be beneficial to the patient.

Supportive care focuses on minimizing the potential for cerebral edema by electrolyte flux of fluid shift in patients with WNE.

No proven benefit has been observed in small numbers of patients treated with interferon, ribavirin, or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

Consultation with an infectious disease specialist and a neurologist should be considered. A repeat lumbar puncture is usually unnecessary. Further outpatient care is usually unnecessary; however, follow-up and rehabilitation of neurologic deficits will likely be beneficial.

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