How are the pulmonary complications of West Nile virus infection prevented?

Updated: Apr 02, 2018
  • Author: Jess D Salinas, Jr, MD; Chief Editor: Elizabeth A Moberg-Wolff, MD  more...
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Answer

Individuals with severe illness secondary to West Nile virus infection are at increased risk of pulmonary complications in the rehabilitation setting. Individuals with encephalitis may have a decreased level of consciousness, or they may suffer from dysphagia related to their neurologic injury, predisposing them to aspiration pneumonia.

Swallow evaluation can be performed to identify the problem and to help in implementing the appropriate diet and feeding techniques to decrease the risk of aspiration.

Phrenic nerve palsy has been described. This complication could lead to decreased expansion of the lungs, further increasing the risk of atelectasis and nosocomial pneumonia.

Deep-breathing exercises, use of an inspiratory spirometer, and early mobilization and ambulation help to decrease the risk of these complications occurring.


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