West Nile virus can kill years af­ter in­fec­tion

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE - —AFP

West Nile virus may be three times more deadly than pre­vi­ously thought, be­cause many deaths as­so­ci­ated with the mos­quito-borne virus oc­cur years af­ter the ini­tial in­fec­tion, re­searchers said Mon­day. The find­ings were based on a study of 4,144 peo­ple in Texas, and were pre­sented at the 2016 Meet­ing of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Trop­i­cal Medicine and Hy­giene (ASTMH) in At­lanta, Ge­or­gia. Among this group of peo­ple who be­came ill with West Nile virus be­tween 2002 and 2012, 286 peo­ple died in the first three months.

Another 268 peo­ple who sur­vived the ini­tial in­fec­tion died over the next decade due to com­pli­ca­tions as­so­ci­ated with the virus, re­searchers found. “While we un­der­stand the cur­rent fo­cus on Zika virus, for many peo­ple in the United States to­day, West Nile virus is the much more se­ri­ous mos­quito-borne threat and that threat may per­sist even for pa­tients who ap­pear to have sur­vived the in­fec­tion un­scathed,” said lead au­thor Kristy Mur­ray of Baylor Col­lege of Medicine and Texas Chil­dren’s Hospi­tal.

The Texas study showed a 13 per­cent fatality rate. Na­tion­wide, about four per­cent of peo­ple are be­lieved to die of West Nile in the acute phase of the ill­ness, or in the first three months, according to the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Prevention. The virus causes no symp­toms at all in up to 80 per­cent of peo­ple. Some peo­ple re­port fever, rash, body pain, headache, vom­it­ing or di­ar­rhea. In rare cases, brain swelling and neu­ro­logic in­fec­tions can oc­cur. Re­searchers said the de­layed deaths in the Texas study were more com­mon among pa­tients who had suf­fered sig­nif­i­cant neu­ro­log­i­cal com­pli­ca­tions early on. Also, kid­ney dis­ease was a sta­tis­ti­cally sig­nif­i­cant cause of de­layed death. Mur­ray said the study shows West Nile virus can cause health prob­lems years af­ter the ini­tial in­fec­tion. “For sev­eral years, we had fol­lowed smaller groups of pa­tients and felt that many had died pre­ma­turely,” Mur­ray said. “We saw many peo­ple who were oth­er­wise healthy un­til they had West Nile virus-and then their health just went down­hill.”

The causes of death came from the Texas state death reg­istry. Re­searchers also had access to med­i­cal records that showed the progress of pa­tients postin­fec­tion. West Nile virus was in­tro­duced into the United States in 1999, and from the same fam­ily of viruses as yel­low fever and Zika, which can cause mi­cro­cephaly in in­fants. “In much the same way that re­search into Zika virus is show­ing a more de­struc­tive virus than orig­i­nally thought, we are still dis­cov­er­ing pre­vi­ously un­re­ported long-term de­struc­tive ef­fects of West Nile,” said Stephen Higgs, PhD, pres­i­dent of the Amer­i­can So­ci­ety of Trop­i­cal Medicine and Hy­giene. “Those of us in the trop­i­cal medicine com­mu­nity have long been con­cerned that West Nile is a sig­nif­i­cant pub­lic health prob­lem and that US fed­eral in­vest­ments are war­ranted in find­ing bet­ter ways to treat and pre­vent it.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Kuwait

© PressReader. All rights reserved.