The main route of human infection with West Nile virus is through the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds, which may circulate the virus in their blood for a few days.

The virus eventually gets into the mosquito’s salivary glands. During later blood meals (when mosquitoes bite), the virus may be injected into humans and animals, where it can multiply and possibly cause illness.

Additional routes of human infection became apparent during the 2002 West Nile epidemic. It is important to note that these other methods of transmission represent a very small proportion of cases. Investigations have identified WNV transmission through transplanted organs and through blood transfusions.

For more information access the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) information on blood transfusions and West Nile virus at http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/qa/transmission.htm.