Doctor: Most people who get West Nile virus never know it

Doctor: Most people who get West Nile virus never know it

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - The number of human West Nile virus cases in the ArkLaTex has doubled from last week.

Three cases of the four confirmed cases are in Bossier Parish; the other one is in Panola County, Texas.

Most people who become infected with the virus show no symptoms, said Dr. Ashley Sommerhalder, of Bossier Family Medicine.

"Only around 20 to 25 percent actually show symptoms. Most of these are called West Nile fever. These are your typical kind of cold symptoms: acute onset of fever, aches and pains and maybe a decrease in appetite."

The neuroinvasive forms of West Nile virus are much more serious. About 1 in about 250 people who are infected get these symptoms, Sommerhalder said.

"These would include anything from meninigitis, which often has a little stiff neck, to encephalitis, which can be associated with confusion and a change in mental state. And these are the cases that generally become deadly if they become serious."

Older people and those with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of developing the more serious symptoms, the doctor added.

There is no standard treatment for West Nile virus.

Antibiotics do not work, and there is no vaccine for it, Sommerhalder said.

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