Procedure and Results of West Nile Virus Blood Test

Submitted on March 27, 2012

West Nile Virus Blood Test

The West Nile virus is a virus that is transmitted to humans via a mosquito bite and has very serious consequences such as being a cause of encephalitis (which is the inflammation of the brain) or even meningitis (which is the inflammation of both, the lining of the brain and spinal cord). The strain of virus was first discovered on the continent of Africa and came to prominence during an outbreak in New York City in 1999. The resulting loss of life caused by this outbreak stood at 24 deaths in 480 reported cases as per data collated in August of 2002. While the threat of the virus has been largely forgotten, precautions must be continuously revamped in order to make sure that nothing as catastrophic as this takes place again. Precaution should not be underestimated. The fact that the West Nile Virus reacts differently with different individuals makes it hard to identify the more common symptoms. Moreover, the fact that the intensity of the symptoms range from being barely noticeable to mild to fatal, means that it is easy to ignore it till the condition becomes almost fatal. Some of the common symptoms include muscle weakness, joint aches, headache, body aches and an increased sensitivity to light.


A West Nile Virus blood test is performed much the same way any other blood test is carried out. A blood sample will first need to be extracted from a vein, usually the one behind the elbow. Before the syringe is inserted into the skin, the area is cleaned with the help of an alcohol pad and a leather strap fastened to the top of your arm to restrict blood flow and cause the vein to swell up. This allows the doctor better accuracy when puncturing the vein. Once the vein is punctured, the blood is collected in the syringe and placed in a sealed test tube to be sent to the lab for analysis. The attendant will then take a cotton swab and place it on the wound before applying some amount of pressure that will aid in clotting of the puncture wound.

Test Results

While the presence of West Nile virus may be present after having conducted a West Nile virus blood test, it will only indicate the presence of the condition and does not specify the severity of the condition.