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West Nile Virus | Print |

Overview 

West Nile virus was discovered in 1937 in the West Nile district of Uganda. New interest was created when West Nile emerged in the United States for the first time in the New York City area in August 1999. It is transmitted to humans by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected by biting birds that harbor the virus. The virus is not spread from person to person or from infected birds to humans without a mosquito bite. The virus has now been found in 111 bird species and about a dozen mammals. How West Nile virus entered New York is not entirely clear. The most likely explanation is that the virus was introduced by an imported infected bird or by an infected human returning from a country where West Nile virus is common. Before the 1999 New York outbreak, West Nile encephalitis had been identified only in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and only rarely in Europe.

Most cases of West Nile occur during the warm weather months. Nonetheless, the mild climate in southern states is expected to sustain the mosquitoes beyond those months.

Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness, Environmental Services Division is committed to the protection of Fulton County Citizens from the West Nile Virus by taking preventive measures. You will find a wealth of information on this web page to protect yourself and your loved ones from the West Nile Virus.

When To Seek Medical Care 

West Nile virus is transmitted only by mosquitoes during summer months and generally only appears between the months of May to October.

People who experience signs or symptoms of serious illness, and have been bitten by a mosquito in the geographic area where West Nile virus is known to appear, should see their doctor immediately.

Most people with mild symptoms of low-grade fever and muscle aches do not have West Nile virus and will not require specific diagnostic testing.

Anyone who has symptoms of severe illness such as mental status changes, high fever, neck stiffness, sensitivity to light, or confusion should go to the hospital's emergency department immediately.

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