Researchers say a mild virus related to West Nile protected mice from the deadly disease when used as a vaccine.
The researchers in Australia studied a relatively harmless virus called Kunjin that has genetic similarities to the West Nile virus. They injected the mice with reduced-strength DNA from the Kunjin virus.
The researchers gave the immunized mice a lethal dose of West Nile virus. Animals that had received even a small dose of Kunjin were protected from illness.
While more testing is needed, the researchers suggest Kunjin may provide a source for development of a vaccine.
The study is in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.
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West Nile virus Facts
- The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.
- The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.
- The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.
How is the West Nile virus Spread?
- The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.
- A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.
- West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.
- Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.
- 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.
- 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.
- 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.
Symptoms of the Virus
- The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.
- Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.
- Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.
- Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home. Remove standing water from any item or area that can hold water. Standing water is a perfect breeding place for mosquitoes.
- Wear long and light colored clothing.
- Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.
- Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face; spray on clothing, as well. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin and clothing.
- Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.
- Stay inside at dawn and dusk because that is when mosquitoes are most active.
Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report