What is west nile encephalitis?

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West Nile encephalitis in children: Overview

West Nile encephalitis is an illness that causes inflammation in the brain. It is caused by the West Nile virus. The virus is carried by mosquitoes. This illness can cause confusion, a high fever, and a severe headache. Other symptoms can include nausea and vomiting, and body aches. West Nile virus is not spread by touching a person who has the virus. Almost all cases are from mosquito bites.

Most people with this illness get better over time. But your child may have some symptoms for several months or longer.

How can you care for West Nile encephalitis?

  • Take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Do not take two or more pain medicines at the same time unless the doctor told you to. Many pain medicines have acetaminophen, which is Tylenol. Too much acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be harmful.
  • Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest. This helps your body heal.
  • Follow your doctor's advice on drinking fluids. Too much fluid sometimes can cause more swelling in the brain.
  • Keep the lights dim if your eyes are sensitive to light.

West Nile encephalitis in children: When to call

Call 911 anytime you think your child may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child has a seizure.

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has a severe headache.
  • Your child has a stiff neck.
  • Your child is nauseated or is vomiting.
  • Your child is confused or cannot think clearly.

Watch closely for changes in your child’s health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • You notice new numbness or weakness in your child.
  • Your child does not get better as expected.

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The content above contains general health information provided by Healthwise, Incorporated, and reviewed by its medical experts. This content should not replace the advice of your healthcare provider. Not all treatments or services described are offered as services by us. For recommended treatments, please consult your healthcare provider.