West Nile Fever and Encephalitis. From Mayoclinic.com. Introduction.
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In the summer of 1999, large numbers of crows began dying in New York City. Health officials eventually discovered the cause, but not before four people died of the same disease — West Nile virus, a mosquito-borne illness that mainly affects birds, humans and horses.
West Nile virus: A single stranded RNA virus containing an envelope
Although the exact mechanism of illness is unknown, West Nile virus probably enters the host's bloodstream, multiplies and moves on to the brain, crossing the blood-brain barrier. Once the virus crosses that barrier and infects the brain or its linings, an inflammatory response occurs and symptoms arise.