West Nile Encephalitis Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 03, 2017
  • Author: Burke A Cunha, MD; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Approach Considerations

Provide supportive care to minimize the potential for cerebral edema in patients with West Nile encephalitis (WNE). In comatose patients, pay special attention to maintaining a clear airway.

Replace fluids and electrolytes, as they are lost through insensible losses due to fever and decreased or absent intake. Patients who are unconscious may need ventilation support in an intensive care unit (ICU) until consciousness is restored.

A normal diet and normal activity, as tolerated by the patient, are acceptable. Many patients recover quickly, but some experience prolonged malaise. [20, 21, 22]

No proven benefit has been observed in small numbers of patients treated with interferon, ribavirin, or intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG).

West Nile encephalopathy is prevented through avoidance of mosquitoes.

Consult an infectious disease specialist and a neurologist. In patients with WNE, repeat testing for relative lymphopenia or increased serum transaminases until levels return to normal. A repeat lumbar puncture is usually unnecessary. Further outpatient care is usually unnecessary.



No vaccine is currently commercially available. Preventive strategies focus on mosquito avoidance.