Signs And Symptoms Of West Nile Virus In Children

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With so many different types of health hazards and conditions lurking, you can never be too sure about what can or cannot affect your kid. As a mom, you probably spend a lot of time staying abreast with epidemics and reading about different microorganisms that can lead to infections in your kid.

So, here we discuss one such microorganism, called the West Nile Virus. Scroll down and learn about the West Nile Virus symptoms in children and how it can affect your kid.

What Is The West Nile Virus?

The WNV or the West Nile Virus in children occurs due to mosquito bites and is common to tropical and temperate areas. The virus was first identified in the year 1937 and even though it had subsequently reduced, it did make a comeback later. While the virus was first contained in the East African area, it has since then spread to other parts of the world (1).

[ Read: How To Prevent Kids From Mosquito Bites ]

Causes Of The West Nile Virus In Children:

The West Nile Virus in child is caused when the mosquito that is already infected with the virus bites someone. However, not all mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus and only a bite from the specific carrier will result in the condition. Also, not everyone who will get bitten by the West Nile Virus infected mosquito will contract the condition. In the case of kids, those who do get the condition may be affected for some time, but it is rare for the condition to go on for too long or lead to further complications.

Symptoms Of West Nile Virus In Children:

In most cases, kids who do get the West Nile Virus will usually suffer from mild symptoms that are similar to that of the flu. It is one of the reasons you may find it difficult to ascertain if your kid has the flu or is suffering from the West Nile Virus. The symptoms of West Nile Virus in child first appear between 3 and 14 days after the infection has set in, and they can last for a few days after that (2).

In about 20% cases, those who do get the West Nile Virus will also develop something called West Nile Fever. Here are some of the most common symptoms of West Nile Fever:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Rashes on the skin
  • Pain all over the body
  • Swelling of the lymph glands

Sometimes, the West Nile Fever can also turn more serious. In such cases, it can take on the form of West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis or even West Nile meningoencephalitis. The severe form of West Nile Fever usually happens in 1 out of 150 cases and takes place when the virus can cross the blood and reach the affected person’s brain. In case a kid has West Nile encephalitis, West Nile meningitis or West Nile meningoencephalitis, the symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Extremely high fever
  • Stiffness in the neck
  • Difficulty in concentration and disorientation
  • Tremors in the body
  • Severe lethargy
  • Difficulty in reacting to situations
  • Weakness in the muscles
  • In some cases, it can also result in paralysis or even coma
  • Convulsions

[ Read: Flu Symptoms In Children ]

Treating The West Nile Virus In Child:

As of now, there is no specific treatment, vaccination or medication that can help to treat the West Nile Virus in child. Your kid’s doctor will help to ease your kid’s condition by assessing the severity of the condition. Here are a few ways in which you can help your kid through the West Nile Virus infection:

  • In some cases, if your kid does have a lot of body pain that can result in discomfort, the doctor may prescribe some over the counter or kid safe pain relievers.
  • A pain reliever will also help to bring down the fever and other related signs and symptoms if your kid does suffer from those.
  • In case the symptoms of West Nile Virus in child is severe, the doctor may recommend a hospital stay so that your kid can be under constant medical supervision. It will also help the doctor to administer any emergency care to your kid in case the symptoms worsen. Your kid’s doctor may try to ease the condition by administering an intravenous fluid (IV), or giving medications that will help to ease the pain (3).

[Read: Dengue Fever In Children]

Preventing The West Nile Virus In Kids:

As the West Nile Virus does not have any specific medication, vaccination or treatment, it can be a difficult situation when a kid contracts the same. Instead of panicking at the lack of treatment options, you can always try and pay more attention to the preventive measures that will help your kid avoid the West Nile Virus in the first place. Here are a few things you and your kids can keep in mind to make sure they are not infected with the West Nile Virus:

1. Wear Clothes To Fully Cover The Body:

Make sure that any time that your kids go out of the house in the evening; they wear clothes that fully cover their body. Ask them to wear full sleeved clothes and long trousers, as well as proper socks and shoes that will keep the feet covered too.

2. Avoid Going Out When It Is About To Be Dark:

Mosquitoes are mostly around when it is dusk and is about to get dark. Ask your kids to avoid going out at such times. If your kids go out to play in the evenings, ask them to make sure that they return home while it is still sufficiently light outside. It is true that your kids may not always be able to realize the shift between evening and dusk while they are playing, and may end up staying out late even in the dark. An effective way to make them realize that it is time to go home is to ask them to be home the moment they see any street or building lights coming on.

  • Always apply a kid-safe mosquito repelling cream on your kids’ bodies before they go out.
  • Remove any stagnant water from in and around your home and try to keep the area as clean and dry as possible.

While West Nile Virus is not common and does not have a treatment, taking, due precautions can surely keep your kids safe from the infection.

Moms, have you heard of anyone who had the West Nile Virus? How did they get well? Also, what special precautions do you use for your kid to protect her from mosquito bites? Tell us here.

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