West Nile Virus Infection

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

West Nile virus (WNV) is carried by mosquitoes. The virus spreads to humans when they are bitten by infected mosquitoes. The virus can be passed from one person to another through blood transfusions or organ transplants. An infected mother who is pregnant or breastfeeding may pass the virus to her child.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

If WNV spreads to your brain (viral encephalitis), it may damage your brain and spinal cord. You may have problems with hearing, seeing, talking, or learning. It may cause seizures or paralysis, and can become life-threatening.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

Neurologic exam:

This is also called neuro signs, neuro checks, or neuro status. A neurologic exam can show caregivers how well your brain works after an injury or illness. Caregivers will check how your pupils (black dots in the center of each eye) react to light. They may check your memory and how easily you wake up. Your hand grasp and balance may also be tested.

Medicines:

  • Antipyretics: This medicine is given to decrease a fever.

  • Pain medicine: You may be given a prescription medicine to decrease pain. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you ask for more medicine.

  • Anticonvulsants: These prevent, decrease, or stop seizures.

  • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

  • Antiviral medicine: This is given to prevent or treat an infection caused by a virus.

Tests:

  • Blood tests: A sample of your blood may be tested for WNV infection.

  • CT scan: This test is also called a CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your brain. You may be given dye before the pictures are taken to help caregivers see the pictures better. Tell the caregiver if you have ever had an allergic reaction to contrast dye.

  • MRI: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your brain. An MRI may show if you have inflammation in your brain. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell caregivers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell caregivers if you have any metal in or on your body.

  • Lumbar puncture: A needle is inserted into your spinal canal through your back. Caregivers will collect a sample of spinal fluid and send it to a lab for test for infection.

  • EEG: This test is also called an electroencephalogram. Many small pads or metal discs are put on your head. Each has a wire that is hooked to a machine. This machine prints a paper tracing of brain wave activity from different parts of your brain. Caregivers look at the tracing to see how your brain is working.

Respiratory support:

  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils.

  • A ventilator is a machine that gives you oxygen and breathes for you when you cannot breathe well on your own. An endotracheal (ET) tube is put into your mouth or nose and attached to the ventilator. You may need a trach if an ET tube cannot be placed. A trach is a tube put through an incision and into your windpipe.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about West Nile Virus Infection (Inpatient Care)

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