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Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2006 May;2(5):264-75.

West Nile virus meningoencephalitis.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver, CO 80262, USA.


Since its first appearance in the US in 1999, West Nile virus (WNV) has emerged as the most common cause of epidemic meningoencephalitis in North America. In the 6 years following the 1999 outbreak, the geographic range and burden of the disease in birds, mosquitoes and humans has greatly expanded to include the 48 contiguous US and 7 Canadian provinces, as well as Mexico, the Caribbean islands and Colombia. WNV has shown an increasing propensity for neuroinvasive disease over the past decade, with varied presentations including meningitis, encephalitis and acute flaccid paralysis. Although neuroinvasive disease occurs in less than 1% of infected individuals, it is associated with high mortality. From 1999-2005, more than 8,000 cases of neuroinvasive WNV disease were reported in the US, resulting in over 780 deaths. In this review, we discuss epidemiology, risk factors, clinical features, diagnosis and prognosis of WNV meningoencephalitis, along with potential treatments.

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