West Nile Disease (WNV) is especially dangerous for organ and bone marrow transplant recipients and other individuals with weakened immune systems, such as individuals undergoing chemotherapy and rheumatoid arthritis therapy.
Transplant patients are at higher risk for developing the severe forms of WNV, including encephalitis, meningitis and even death, more often than persons with normal immune systems. In its severe forms, the virus can attack the brain and nervous system, paralyze the body and leave life-changing impairments. And in some cases, it can kill. Medicines taken by transplant recipients can make it hard to fight infections. Also, immunosuppressed recipients may have longer incubation periods.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, symptoms of severe WNV include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness, and paralysis. Any transplants recipients experiencing unexplained fever and/or neurological symptoms during mosquito season should contact their health care provider. For more information on WNV and transplant recipients, visit www.cdc.gov/westnile. Organ and Bone Marrow Transplant Patients experiencing symptoms should contact their health care provider.