Complete coverage of the West Nile virus in North Texas

Not All West Nile Virus Infections Are the Same

Cases range from mild to serious

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An infectious disease specialist at Baylor Dallas says there are two types of West Nile virus that people should know about -- West Nile fever and a more serious infection that is neuroinvasive. (Published Thursday, Aug 2, 2012)

    Denton County confirmed its third case of West Nile virus this week, but all the news about the virus isn't bad.

    "We don't cover as many cases as we used to," said Dr. Cedric Spak, an infectious disease specialist at Baylor Dallas.

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    There are two types of West Nile virus that people should know about, Spak said. He said most people have likely been bitten by a mosquito infected with West Nile virus.

    The milder version is called West Nile fever. The symptoms are flu-like.

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    "They'll have some fever, body aches. They just won't feel well," Spak said. "They'll probably miss a few days from school or work, then it goes away."

    But the other, more serious type of West Nile infection is neuroinvasive, meaning the body's nerve centers are at risk.

    "It will invade the central nervous system, and the person develops encephalitis, which is which is an inflammation of the brain," Spak said.

    Symptoms for the neuroinvasive virus can include headaches and other flu-like symptoms, but Spak said a fever higher than 102 degrees and a sense of confusion or disorientation are key signs of the more serious virus.

    Spak said that while parents worry about their children contracting the virus, healthy children are not at high risk. Instead, older patients with weak immune systems should be more careful with exposure to the West Nile virus, he said.

    People can limit their exposure to mosquitoes by spraying themselves with DEET, draining standing water and wearing long sleeves and pants while doing yard work.


    West Nile Virus:
    Click here for complete coverage of the outbreak of West Nile virus in North Texas. Find updated numbers of human cases, spraying schedules, and more FAQs about the disease.