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West Nile Virus

             "Three years from now it will be a national problem The increase in the world's population, no doubt, will have a bearing on global warming. But, global warming is not the only effect of over population. The spread of disease will be rampant amongst humans and other mammals unless we can alter the way our economic development uses power and energy" (Stone 2001). Global warming is a direct cause for the increase and spread of disease around the world due to changing weather patterns. Northern areas of the globe have increased rainfall, while mid and southern portions suffer from increasingly milder winters and droughts. These effects are severe and have an effect on the human population and are helping with the spread of another life threatening effect of global warming that is hidden from obvious view; the West Nile Virus (WN). Although this virus has been around since 1937 (where it was first discovered in Uganda) the recognition of the West Nile Virus in the Western Hemisphere, in the summer of 1999, marked the first introduction in recent history of an Old World flavivirus into the New World (Peterson 2001). .
             The West Nile Virus is a part of the Japanese encephalitis (JE) antigenic complex that includes 4 other viruses that cause Central Nervous System (CNS) infections (JE, St. Louis encephalitis, Murray Valley encephalitis, and Kunjin (a WNV subtype)) and it is interesting to note that these viruses are so closely related that they often require specialized tests to differentiate them (Yang 2001). The incursion of these Flaviviruses into new areas is likely to continue through the advancement of international commerce and trade. Diseases that were once known to occur only in third world countries, such as Africa, are slowly making their way across the globe. Although all viruses in this antigenic complex are important, this paper will focus on the biology, replication, pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of the West Nile Virus.

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