Nearly 44,000 cases of West Nile virus disease (West Nile virus) have been reported in the United States since 1999. Of those, over 20,000 people have had infections of the brain or spinal cord and more than 1,900 people have died. Many more cases of illness are not reported to CDC.
Then, is West Nile Virus rare?
The virus is spread by mosquito bites. West Nile fever in people is rare. It usually causes mild, flu-like symptoms. Only about 1 in 5 people who become infected with the virus will develop West Nile fever.
What are the chances of getting the West Nile virus?
It's hard to say exactly how many people are carrying West Nile because only 20 percent of people infected actually show symptoms—leaving 80 percent of the infected unaware that they have the virus. Of those, only 1 percent result in a severe infection, called West Nile encephalitis.
How do you know if you have the West Nile virus?
Symptoms and signs of West Nile virus include fever, headache, body aches, skin rash, and swollen lymph nodes. Severe symptoms and signs may include stiff neck, sleepiness, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, and paralysis. Most cases of West Nile virus infection are mild and go unreported.