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Discharge Instructions for West Nile Virus

West Nile virus is an infection spread by mosquitoes. It can cause a variety of symptoms.

Many people won't have any symptoms. Others may have mild flu-like symptoms that last a few days. In rare cases, it can be life-threatening.

West Nile is treated with self-care until the virus passes. If you have other health problems caused by West Nile, they will also need to be treated.

Steps to Take

Home Care

To help you feel better:

  • Rest when you need to.
  • If you have a fever, soak in a cool or lukewarm bath.


If you have an upset stomach, it may make it harder to get enough fluids or food. Try doing these:

  • Eat smaller meals spread throughout the day.
  • Soup is a great choice for mealtime.
  • Drink plenty of fluids throughout the day. Drink mainly water and unsweetened fruit juice.

Physical Activity

You may have to stay away from certain activities until you feel better. Slowly return to normal as you feel able.

  • Ask your doctor when you will be able to return to work.
  • Don't drive unless your doctor says it's okay to do so.


Some medicines will ease fever or body aches. Your doctor may advise taking acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

Note: Aspirin can cause serious health problems in some children with certain infections. Don’t give your child any aspirin or aspirin-containing products until you talk to their doctor first.

If you are taking medicines:

  • Take the medicine as directed. Don’t change the amount or the schedule.
  • Ask what side effects could occur. Report them to your doctor.
  • Medicines can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one medicine. This includes over-the-counter products and supplements.


To help lower the chances of mosquito bites:

  • Try not to be outdoors at dawn or dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
  • Wear long pants and long-sleeve shirts when outdoors.
  • Use an insect repellent with DEET.
  • Fix screens to keep mosquitoes from coming into your house.
  • Remove any standing water to prevent mosquito breeding. This includes water in bird baths or clogged gutters.

Mosquitoes get West Nile virus by biting birds that have it. If you see a dead bird, call the public health department. Don't touch the dead bird unless you are wearing gloves that can be used once and thrown away.


Your doctor will need to check on your progress. Go to all scheduled appointments.

Call Your Doctor If Any of the Following Occurs

Call your doctor if you're not getting better or have other problems such as:

  • High fever
  • Stiff neck
  • A change in mental status
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Stupor
  • Severe muscle weakness
  • Paralysis
  • Signs of infection such as fever or chills
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lightheadedness
  • Rapid, irregular heartbeat, or chest pain
  • Rash or hives

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases


Public Health Agency of Canada

The College of Family Physicians of Canada


West Nile virus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/westnile/index.htm. Updated October 30, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018.

West Nile virus. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases website. Available at: https://www.niaid.nih.gov/diseases-conditions/west-nile-virus. Accessed November 20, 2018.

West Nile virus infection. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T114644/West-Nile-virus-infection. Updated October 25, 2018. Accessed November 20, 2018.

West Nile virus infection. EBSCO Nursing Reference Center website. Available at:https://www.ebscohost.com/nursing/products/nursing-reference-center. Updated July 27, 2018. Accessed November 19, 2018.

Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board David L Horn, MD, FACP  Last Updated: 11/20/2018