Because this illness is not caused by bacteria, antibiotics do not help treat West Nile virus infection. Standard hospital care may help decrease the risk of complications in severe illness.
In general, the outcome of a mild West Nile virus infection is excellent.
For patients with severe cases of West Nile virus infection, the outlook is more uncertain. West Nile encephalitis or meningitis may lead to brain damage and death. Approximately 10% of patients with brain inflammation do not survive.
Complications from mild West Nile virus infection are very rare.
Complications from severe West Nile virus infection include:
- Brain damage
- Permanent muscle weakness (sometimes similar to
Calling your health care provider
Call your health care provider if you have symptoms of West Nile virus infection, especially if you may have had contact with mosquitos. If you are severely ill, go to an emergency room.
If you have been bitten by an infected mosquito, there is no treatment to avoid getting West Nile virus infection. People in good general health generally do not develop a serious illness, even if they are bitten by an infected mosquito.
Review Date: 09/15/2010
Reviewed By: David C. Dugdale, III, MD, Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine, Department of Medicine, University of Washington School of Medicine; Jatin M. Vyas, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Assistant in Medicine, Division of Infectious Disease, Department of Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.