A 20-year historical review of West Nile virus since its initial emergence in North America: Has West Nile virus become a neglected tropical disease?

PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2021 May 6;15(5):e0009190. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0009190. eCollection 2021 May.


After the unexpected arrival of West Nile virus (WNV) in the United States in 1999, the mosquito-borne virus quickly spread throughout North America. Over the past 20 years, WNV has become endemic, with sporadic epizootics. Concerns about the economic impact of infection in horses lead to the licensure of an equine vaccine as early as 2005, but few advances regarding human vaccines or treatments have since been made. There is a high level of virus transmission in hot/humid, subtropical climates, and high morbidity that may disproportionately affect vulnerable populations including the homeless, elderly, and those with underlying health conditions. Although WNV continues to cause significant morbidity and mortality at great cost, funding and research have declined in recent years. These factors, combined with neglect by policy makers and amenability of control measures, indicate that WNV has become a neglected tropical disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomedical Research / economics
  • Culicidae / virology
  • Humans
  • Introduced Species
  • Neglected Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Neglected Diseases / virology*
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Viral Vaccines / immunology
  • West Nile Fever / epidemiology*
  • West Nile Fever / transmission*
  • West Nile virus


  • Viral Vaccines