Course # DL-976: Update on West Nile Virus

by Helen M. Sowers, M.A., CLS - Dept of Biological Science (retired) - California State University, East Bay

Approved for 1.0 CE
Level of Difficulty: Basic


Yet again the international spread of a disease that was formerly restricted to a small area shows how vulnerable the entire world is to emerging diseases. We must be constantly prepared to investigate such new-to-us maladies. West Nile virus is an example of our shrinking globe and how a tipping point —a critical mass or condition—can start an epidemic.

West Nile virus has emerged in recent years in temperate regions of Europe and North America, presenting a threat to public, bird, and animal health. The virus was first identified in the United States in New York in 1999. Since then there has been rapid spread to include all the forty-eight contiguous states.

The most serious manifestation of WNV infection is fatal encephalitis in humans and horses, as well as mortality in certain domestic and wild birds. Although WNV can cause serious disease, less than 1% of those diagnosed with the infection suffer the more serious complications.


After completing this course the participant will be able to:

  1. Discuss the history of West Nile virus (WNV).
  2. Explain the epidemiology of WNV in the United States.
  3. Outline the range of clinical symptoms in humans infected with WNV.
  4. State the classification of WNV.
  5. Discuss methods of prevention of WNV spread and infection.
  6. Outline the surveillance programs for WNV.


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