As the coronavirus surge continues, there’s another virus to watch for now: West Nile. Dallas County’s already spraying for the mosquito-borne disease and a number of its symptoms are similar to COVID-19.
KERA’s Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Carolee Estelle, interim chief of Infection Prevention with Parkland Health & Hospital System, and an assistant professor of Internal Medicine in the Infectious Diseases Division of UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Symptoms Similar To West Nile Virus And COVID-19
- A lot of viruses tend to cause fevers, which you can see in both. Feeling really tired and fatigued. Headache and body aches.
- West Nile neuro-invasive disease can affect the brain and the spinal cord. When that happens, you can get much higher fevers, neck stiffness, muscle weakness and even more severe things like confusion, coma, tremors. The severe form can lead to death in some cases.
- The incubation period is about two to 14 days — the time it takes from exposure to the virus to getting infection and symptoms from it.
What Symptom Separates The Two Viruses?
Headache is probably more predominant in West Nile than COVID. But the real distinguishing factor, from a symptom standpoint, between COVID-19 and West Nile virus is seen in the more severe form — the neuro-invasive disease — where you get really severe neurologic symptoms that we don't typically see in COVID.
The reality is that one would need to be tested to know truly.
Also When It Comes To West Nile Virus:
- 80% of people will not know that they have gotten the virus.
- 20% will have really mild symptoms.
- Less than 1% will be the ones who get the really severe version of the disease.
Steps To Guard Against West Nile Virus:
- Prevent mosquito bites by wearing long sleeves, loose clothing and using bug repellent containing DEET.
- Get rid of any standing water in the area. It really attracts those mosquitoes.
- Wear long clothing and mosquito repellent especially at dusk and dawn, when mosquitoes are most active.
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