West Nile virus 2016: West Nile virus infection particularly dangerous in elderly, increased rates of severe cases and death

west nile virusWest Nile virus (WNV) infection is particularly dangerous for the elderly, raising the numbers of severe cases and even death. The researchers analyzed and compared immune responses to WNV infection in four-month-old and 18-month-old (senior) mice.

The researchers found that the senior mice were three times more likely to die after WNV infection, compared to the four-month-old mice. Older mice had higher concentrations of the infection in the spleen and blood, as well as in their brains – which wasn’t the case for the younger mice.


The researchers concluded that their study “identifies a series of key early defects associated with immune responses in old animals.” As to the mechanisms at work, they explained that “the delayed antibody and germinal center cell responses are due to trafficking defects, which are compounded by lower levels of chemokines in the lymph node after infection. Ultimately, this leads to blunted adaptive immune responses, higher viral titers, and increased death after West Nile virus infection.”

The study reveals that West Nile virus is more threatening and dangerous to the elderly, so seniors should take extra precautions to minimize their risk of contracting the mosquito-transmitted virus.

Prevent mosquito bites to avoid West Nile virus infection in elderly

Here are some tips to help reduce your risk of mosquito-transmitted infections.

  • Reduce opportunities for mosquito breeding by emptying still water on a weekly basis.
  • Tightly secure all screens and openings on rain barrels used for water conservation.
  • Clean up any trash or leaves that may be around the home or in rain gutters.
  • Use a tick and mosquito repellent on exposed skin and wear repellent-treated clothing.
  • Mosquito-proof your home by installing and repairing screens on the doors and windows.
  • Use air conditioning.

Avoiding areas where mosquitoes breed immediately reduces your risk of any bites. These areas included grassy, wooded areas, still water, and the nighttime hours.

Other measures to better protect yourself and your family include using a mesh netting over strollers and carriages, wearing long loose-fitting clothing, and wearing light-colored clothing to deter insects as well as spot them more easily when they are on you.


Author Bio

Emily Lunardo studied medical sociology at York University with a strong focus on the social determinants of health and mental illness. She is a registered Zumba instructor, as well as a Canfit Pro trainer, who teaches fitness classes on a weekly basis. Emily practices healthy habits in her own life as well as helps others with their own personal health goals. Emily joined Bel Marra Health as a health writer in 2013.


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