West Nile Encephalitis

  • Megan McKenna
  • Shannon E. Ronca
  • Melissa S. Nolan
  • Kristy O. MurrayEmail author


West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne illness found worldwide, with manifestations ranging from asymptomatic infection to neuroinvasive disease (WNND), characterized by encephalitis, meningitis, and acute flaccid paralysis. First isolated in Uganda, the virus has spread globally, and transmission has now been documented on all six inhabited continents. The public health impact of WNV is considerable, with greater than six million people estimated to have been infected in the United States alone. This vector-borne disease is propagated in nature between the mosquito vector and birds, while horses and humans act as incidental, dead-end hosts. Diagnostic tests are widely available, but detection of antibodies, antibody cross-reactivity with other flaviviruses, and virus isolation in biological samples continue to pose challenges to clinical diagnosis. With limited treatment options and no FDA-approved vaccines, decreasing one’s personal vector exposure is the most effective way to prevent disease. This widespread disease continues to be an annual public health threat, resulting in high morbidity, prolonged sequelae, and excessive mortality, thus warranting further study to improve diagnostics, treatments, and prevention to increase patient quality of life.


West nile virus Meningitis Encephalitis Acute flaccid paralysis Epidemiology 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Megan McKenna
    • 1
  • Shannon E. Ronca
    • 2
  • Melissa S. Nolan
    • 2
  • Kristy O. Murray
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Infectious Diseases, Baylor College of Medicine, Harris County Hospital DistrictHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s HospitalHoustonUSA

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