CPS Closely Monitoring West Nile Virus Outbreak in the US

West Nile Virus (WNV) can cause a fatal neurological disease in humans; however, approximately 80 per cent of people who are infected will not show any symptoms.


The Collective Prevention Services (CPS) of the Ministry of Public Health, Social Development & Labour is currently monitoring the outbreak in the United States. There are no reported cases of WNV on the Dutch side.

As part of the Minister’s public health campaign of "Get Checked," residents are asked to check around their surroundings to make sure there are no mosquito breeding areas. Minister responsible for Public Health, Social Development & Labour Hon. Cornelius de Weever says: "I am kindly asking everyone to do their share and ensure that their yard is clean to reduce mosquito breeding areas."

On a local level, information will be provided to family physicians and other health professionals, and the community is asked to continue to maintain stepped up prevention measures to keep their yards and premises free of mosquitoes.

WNV is mainly transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. The genus Culex mosquito is generally considered the principal vector of WNV. Birds are the natural hosts of WNV.

Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which circulate the virus in their blood for a few days. The virus may also be transmitted through contact with other infected animals, their blood, or other tissues.

The 20 per cent of people who become infected with WNV will develop West Nile fever. Symptoms include fever, headache, tiredness, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, occasionally with a skin rash and swollen lymph glands.

The symptoms of severe disease include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness and paralysis.

Serious illness can occur in people of any age; however people over the age of 50 and some immune-compromised persons are at the highest risk for getting severely ill when infected with WNV. Incubation period is usually three to 14 days.

No vaccine is available for humans. Treatment for patients entails hospitalization, intravenous fluids, respiratory support, and prevention of secondary infections.

In the absence of a vaccine, the only way to reduce infection in people is to reduce the risk of mosquito transmission. As always recommended by CPS, eliminate standing water and destroy other mosquito breeding sites; use mosquito nets, insect repellent, wear light colored clothing, long sleeve shirts and trousers, avoid going outdoors at dusk and dawn without haven taken the necessary preventive measures.

The last time the Caribbean experience WNV cases were back in 1999 and 2003.