Flu symptoms vs. West Nile Virus symptoms

By: Allison Kropff Email
By: Allison Kropff Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - It's that time of year. The heat and humidity cause the mosquitoes to come out and become a pest and even a danger if they're carrying West Nile Virus. But this time of year is also right on the cusp of flu season. So, are you suffering from symptoms of the flu or from West Nile Virus? We have some answers.

Just as summer is winding down, flu season is gearing up.

"Kids are about to go back to school, so again, you've got those close quarters where everyone is in a confined area, there's germs spreading," says the interim Director of Nursing for the Knox County Health Department, Jennifer Johnson.

But there's another virus out there this time of year. The Knox County Health Department just sprayed in East Knoxville after the first report of West Nile Virus.

"It's not unusual for it to occur in the community, around this time of year," says Johnson.

The two illnesses are similar because you can have a fever with both. But, Johnson says West Nile is neurological and the flu is respiratory. "West Nile Virus is more neurological, such as a stiff neck, headache or high fever. So those are the type of things that you would want to seek medical care for, versus flu, it's more upper respiratory, the cough, the sore throat. You may have the fever with both, but it's the respiratory symptoms and maybe stomach symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting that goes with the flu."

The flu is much more common than West Nile Virus, but if you come down with either, there can be serious complications. Doctors recommend to seek medical treatment if any of the symptoms become severe in either case. So to avoid getting sick this season...

"If you're sick stay home, use good hand hygiene. West Nile Virus, what I encourage is just wear mosquito repellent, even if you're out for just a few minutes," says Johnson.

To learn more about the flu and about West Nile Virus, click on the links below.

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