West Nile virus
The PHLS has warned of an outbreak of this virus in North America and Canada. You should protect yourself against bites by using DEET insect repellent and covering up during the hours of dusk to dawn. Sleep under a mosquito net impregnated with DEET.
West Nile virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and can infect people, horses, many types of birds, and some other animals. Dead birds in an area may mean that West Nile virus is circulating between the birds and the mosquitoes in that area.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no symptoms or only mild ones. However, on rare occasions West Nile virus infection can result in inflammation of the brain - encephalitis, or meningitis which are potentially fatal. Guillain-Barre syndrome which causes paralysis is another recognised complication.
There is no evidence to suggest that West Nile virus can be spread from person to person or from animal to person.
Health Protection Agency
Guillain-Barré Syndrome Support Group
This article published on
01 July 2005
Next review date 01/07/2013