Since the emergence of West Nile virus (WNV) in North America in 1999, understanding of the clinical features, spectrum of illness and eventual functional outcomes of human illness has increased tremendously. Most human infections with WNV remain clinically silent. Among those persons developing symptomatic illness, most develop a self-limited febrile illness. More severe illness with WNV (West Nile neuroinvasive disease, WNND) is manifested as meningitis, encephalitis or an acute anterior (polio) myelitis. These manifestations are generally more prevalent in older persons or those with immunosuppression. In the future, a more thorough understanding of the long-term physical, cognitive and functional outcomes of persons recovering from WNV illness will be important in understanding the overall illness burden.