The disease was first diagnosed in blood taken from a woman living in the West Nile district of Uganda in 1937. Since that time the disease has been found in many other countries including Egypt, Israel, South Africa, parts of Asia and more recently in the American subcontinent. During 2003 three cases were diagnosed in Western Europe; one in the Netherlands and the other two in Southern France (may have been imported from Spain).
This is a viral disease transmitted by mosquitoes. The disease mainly affects birds but the mosquitoes can transmit it to other animals (horses, cats, dogs, domesticated rabbits, skunks and bats) including humans. The mosquitoes which transmit West Nile Fever mainly feed on birds belonging to the Culex group. They are generally dusk and dawn feeders so protecting against mosquito bites at these times is particularly important.
There is no specific viral treatment against West Nile Fever available at this time. However those with the more severe form of the disease will be treated in hospital to ease their symptoms.
Protection against WNF
The only way to protect against West Nile Fever in the majority of cases is to avoid mosquito bites. This involves covering exposed skin with light coloured clothing (mainly at dusk and dawn when the mosquitoes are most active), avoiding perfumes, deodorants, hair lacquers and aftershaves (which attract mosquitoes) etc and also using effective insect repellents.
Thank you for reading How to Avoid West Nile Fever – Travel Health Advice. For more information please see Avoiding West Nile Fever PDF.