West Nile Virus, Health Status, and Recovery

Q I have a friend who informs me that her son (52, I think) has been diagnosed with West Nile Virus. Do any of you know anything that might help prevent it? It sounds like it could get pretty scary. I would appreciate any information you might have come across.

DONNA, Salinas, CA

A West Nile virus infection is a mosquito-borne disease that may result in mild fever or severe inflammation of the brain. It was reported in an estimated 175,000 people in the United States last year, and its incidence, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is increasing, especially in California. Bug repellants have been found to keep the disease-carrying mosquitoes at bay.

A study just published in the Annals of Internal Medicine has found that a significant portion of those afflicted recover fully within one year, despite a number of deaths.1 However, the state of a person’s health appears to correlate strongly with the speed of recovery. Victims with heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions recovered much more slowly. The moral of this story? It would seem that good health is the best protection against the consequences of unexpected encounters with disease-carrying mosquitoes, and nutritional supplements are a major way to maintain your health. And don’t forget to eliminate mosquito-breeding areas by overturning water catchments.


  1. Loeb M, Hanna S, Nicolle L, Eyles J, Elliott S, Rathbone M, Drebot M, Neupane B, Fearon M, Mahony J. Prognosis after West Nile virus infection. Ann Intern Med 2008;149(4):232-41. Summary for patients in: Ann Intern Med 200;149(4):I34.

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