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West Nile virus vs. COVID-19: How to tell them apart

Mosquito population growing after last week's rainfall
Posted at 5:38 PM, Sep 01, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-01 21:25:40-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The state of Texas has reported nine cases of the West Nile virus so far this year, and four of them were reported in Nueces county.

Fever, nausea, and weakness are symptoms that the Nueces County patients with West Nile virus are experiencing. These symptoms are all common among COVID-19 patients as well. Other shared symptoms between the two viruses include headache, tiredness, and body aches.

So how can you tell the difference between the two?

Dr. Fergie, Driscoll Children’s Hospital infectious disease specialist, says there are a few key symptoms to help spot the difference. He says, “with COVID, many times you’re going to have the nasal congestion, the sore throat and the respiratory symptoms that you do not have with West Nile virus.”

Dr. Fergie also says a common symptom of the West Nile virus that is not a sign of COVID-19 is a skin rash.

About 80 percent of those who do get West Nile virus will not experience any symptoms and may not even know they have it.

Ways to guard yourself from the West Nile virus are to wear bug spray and long clothing, and to get rid of any standing water that attracts mosquitoes.

Doctors do not expect West Nile cases to contribute to the overflow of hospital patients.

“It is not going to overwhelm the hospital like COVID,” Dr. Fergie says. “One patient now in this situation adds perhaps a little bit more stress to some of the institutions.”