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West Nile Virus Questions Answered

11. Can you get West Nile encephalitis from another person?

No. West Nile encephalitis is not transmitted from person to person. For example, you cannot get West Nile virus from touching or kissing a person who has the disease or from a health care worker who has treated someone with the disease.

12. Where did West Nile virus come from?

West Nile virus was first detected in the U.S. in New York City in 1999. It is not known where the U.S. virus originated but it is most closely related to strains found in the Middle East.

13. Is West Nile virus seasonal in its occurrence?

In the U.S., West Nile virus cases occur primarily in the late summer or early fall. In southern climates, where temperatures are milder, West Nile virus can be transmitted year-round.

14. Is there a vaccine available to protect humans from West Nile virus?

No. However, vaccines have been made against similar viruses, so a West Nile vaccine appears possible.

15. If I live in an area where birds or mosquitoes with West Nile virus have been reported and a mosquito bites me, am I likely to get sick?

No. Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become severely ill from any one mosquito bite are extremely small.

16. If a person contracts West Nile virus, does that person develop a natural immunity to future infection by the virus?

It is assumed that immunity will be lifelong; however, it may wane in later years.

17. If my dog/cat becomes infected with West Nile virus, does it pose a risk to the health of my family or other animals?

While cats and dogs can get West Nile infections, they cannot spread the virus to people.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on August 31, 2012

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