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Care and Treatment for West Nile Virus

Why Choose Treatment for West Nile Virus at University of Colorado Hospital?

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The Infectious Disease Group Practice at University of Colorado Hospital is nationally recognized. Our doctors are board-certified and conduct groundbreaking research.

In addition, our multidisciplinary care team has experience in diagnosing and managing a wide range of infectious diseases, including West Nile Virus. And we offer patients access to the latest treatments.

What is West Nile Virus?

West Nile Virus is passed to humans by infected mosquitoes. It was first detected in the Unites States in 1999. It is not transmitted between people or from animals to people through everyday contact.

  • Most cases of West Nile Virus happen in the summer and fall.
  • About 80% of people infected with the virus never get sick.
  • About 20% of those infected will develop a fever and usually another symptom such as a headache, body aches, joint pain, diarrhea or rash. Most of these people completely recover within a week.
  • In rare cases, people infected with the virus develop infections of the brain and the tissue that surround it. Recovering from these severe infections can take weeks to months, and some people may suffer permanent neurologic damage.

Follow the "Four Ds" prevention tips

Because there is no cure or vaccine for WNV infection, it's important to prevent infection in the first place. The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment recommends following the Four Ds:

  • DRAIN standing water around your house (this is where mosquitoes lay their eggs)
  • DUSK and DAWN are when mosquitoes carrying the virus are most active, so limit your time outdoors at these times
  • DEET is an effective insect repellant ingredient
  • DRESS in long sleeved shirts and long pants at dusk and dawn or when you will be in areas where mosquitoes are active

Those most at risk

People who are at highest risk for severe infection are over 60 years old, have illnesses that affect their immune systems or take medicines that affect their immune system, or have diabetes, cancer or kidney disease.

See your doctor or go straight to an emergency department if you or someone you know develops these symptoms:

  • high fevers
  • severe nausea or vomiting
  • neck stiffness
  • confusion
  • seizures or tremors
  • paralysis or coma

Tests and Treatments

Tests for West Nile Virus

Blood tests and spinal fluid tests are the most common ways your doctor will diagnose West Nile virus.


Treatments for West Nile Virus

There is no treatment for West Nile virus. In more severe cases, supportive treatments can include hospitalization, IV fluids, airway management and ventilator support.

Your Medical Team

The Infectious Disease Group Practice at University of Colorado has a multidisciplinary team of health care providers. Each specialist is trained to provide different aspects of infectious disease care. Your medical team will be assembled with the specialists best suited to treat your condition.


Infectious Disease Specialists at University of Colorado Hospital


Infectious disease specialists – board-certified doctors who are specially trained in diagnosing and treating infectious diseases.


Nurse practitioner (NP) – a registered nurse who has completed a master’s degree. NPs are licensed to see patients for assessment, treatment and follow-up.


Registered nurse – graduated from a formal nursing education program and is licensed by the state of Colorado.


Pharmacists – have a doctorate degree in the science of medication.


Nutritionists – health professionals with special training in nutrition. They help patients determine the best dietary choices for better health.


Endocrinologist – a board-certified medical doctor who is specially trained to diagnose diseases that affect the glands.


Obstetricians/gynecologists – an obstetrician is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in delivering babies. A gynecologist is a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in treating diseases of the female reproductive system.


Oncologist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancer.


Psychiatrist – a board-certified medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental disorders.


Psychiatric nurses – have special training in caring for patients with mental disorders.


Other Infectious Disease Staff


Social workers – help individuals ensure their personal well being and provide the resources for people to get the help they need, by assessing all aspects of their life and culture.

West Nile Virus Research

Researchers at University of Colorado Hospital study different aspects of West Nile virus. These studies are done in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control. Several studies have focused on West Nile disease and transplant patients.

Additional West Nile Virus Resources

Fight the Bite Colorado
A West Nile virus prevention and education campaign brought to you by Colorado's state and local health departments

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Centers for Disease Control West Nile Virus homepage