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The West Nile Virus The West Nile Virus is a mosquito-born virus that can cause encephalitis inflammation of the brain or meningitis inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord The West Nile Virus is spread to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that carries the virus You cannot get the West Nile virus from a person who has the disease Younger are adults are not as likely to be at risk of the West Nile Virus as are older adults While the chance of anyone becoming infected with the West Nile Virus is very low most cases have occurred in people older than 50 People in that age group especially the elderly are also more likely to develop severe diseases such as encephalitis or meningitis if they become infected The West Nile Virus was first seen in Africa Egypt Israel Asia Romania Russia and France The virus hadnt showed up in the Americas until 1999 The most likely explanation for its appearance here is that the virus was introduced by an infected bird that was imported or an infected person returning from a country where the virus is common Currently there is no evidence that the virus can be spread to humans directly from birds There is only evidence of it being spread to people directly from mosquitoes There is also no evidence that the West Nile Virus can be spread by insects or ticks Most people who are infected with West Nile Virus either have no symptoms or experience mild illness such as fever headache and body aches before fully recovering from it Few people may also develop swollen lymph glands or a mild rash In some people particularly elderly West Nile Virus can cause a serious disease that affects brain tissue In some cases it can be fatal The symptoms of this include the rapid onset of a severe headache
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