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How long has west nile virus caused encephalitis been know as California Encephalitis Virus? I work for the California dept. of health services as an assistant and much research is being done both on the many causes and symptoms of encephalitis and related causes of west nile virus. In most cases of west nile, the infected person only appears to have a fever and flu-like symptoms that goes away within a reasonable time frame. In a smaller number of cases, often in immunocompromised patients, the virus can cause encephalitis. Most of the research in conducted in the summer, when mosquito contact is frequent.