West Nile Virus is most often spread when an infected mosquito bites you. If you're bitten and infected, it takes about 3 to 14 days for you to become ill.
Most people never get sick, but if you do the symptoms can vary from a mild infection that can include fever and body aches to, in rare cases, severe brain and spinal cord infections.
Dr. Adarsj Bhimraj is a West Nile Virus expert at the Cleveland Clinic. He says "even in those people who get the infection, 80% or 4 out of 5 people will not have any symptoms and they'll do okay and about 20% of them get sick, out of which do, less than 1% get severe disease that is disease which is severe enough to go to your brain."
If you think you've developed a serious West Nile Virus infection and you have a severe headache, muscle weakness or paralysis, you should seek medical help immediately.
Dr.Bhimraj says you don't need to become paranoid about mosquito bites but be cautious when you're outside. Eliminating standing water around your house will destroy potential mosquito breeding grounds. Use window screens and cover your skin in repellent or clothing, especially at dawn or dusk.
He says people with suppressed immune systems, such as transplant patients, are most at risk from the West Nile virus.