Which clinical history findings are characteristic of West Nile virus infection?

Updated: Apr 23, 2020
  • Author: Jess D Salinas, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Mosquito bites may or may not be present in an infected person. A history of travel to or from an area that is known to harbor the virus is common.

The incubation period for the West Nile virus is postulated to be approximately 5-15 days. Symptoms of mild infection may last 3-6 days and include fever in 20% of cases. Other symptoms include nausea, anorexia, malaise, myalgia, headache, backache, rash, eye pain, and vomiting. [2]

Symptoms of more severe illness include severe muscle weakness, flaccid paralysis or increased muscle spasticity, photophobia, seizures, mental status changes, respiratory symptoms, and an erythematous, maculopapular, or morbilliform rash involving the neck, trunk, arms, or legs. [6, 11] The severity of the illness is related to the degree of central nervous system invasion by the virus.

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