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West Nile Virus Overview

How is West Nile Virus Treated?

Courtesy COMNAVSURFLANT Maintenance

At present, there is no real treatment for West Nile. People who have milder symptoms typically get over them in a few days without a doctor's care. More serious cases are treated in the hospital with "supportive therapy" -- a regimen of intravenous fluids, respiratory support and careful monitoring.

Scientists are working to develop West Nile virus treatments, as well as a vaccine. Several potential vaccines are in clinical trials. Two of the vaccines being tested are chimeric vaccines: They use a combination of West Nile virus genes and the genes of another, closely related virus (yellow fever or dengue). One of these, Acambis' ChimeriVax-West Nile, has shown promise in animal and human studies. Most of the participants who received a low dose of this vaccine developed antibodies to it, giving their bodies the ability to fight off a West Nile infection.

Researchers are also investigating a number of treatments for West Nile. One therapy uses antibodies similar to the ones present in people whose immune system is able to fight off the West Nile virus. So far, this treatment has been successful in studies with mice.