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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Missouri reports West Nile virus in human

7-year-old recovering; officials urge caution as mosquito-breeding season picks up

August 16, 2003

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— A 7-year-old Putnam County girl has been confirmed to have Missouri's first probable case of West Nile virus this year, the state health department said Friday.

The girl's symptoms of muscle aches, fever and a severe headache had been reported in July as either West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis, both of which are mosquito-borne illnesses. Lab tests by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the girl probably had West Nile virus, the department said.

Health officials said the girl was recovering.

Last year, Missouri had 168 human cases of West Nile virus, including seven deaths.

August and September were the prime time for the disease, and Dr. Howard Pue, the state public health veterinarian, urged caution.

"We are just now entering mosquito-breeding season, so female mosquitoes will be looking for blood meals, which means they will be biting more," Pue said. "Now is the time to be even more careful about mosquito control and protection."

Mosquitoes transfer the virus to humans and horses after biting infected birds. It cannot be transmitted from person to person or from birds to people. In extreme cases, the virus can cause brain inflammation. More routine symptoms include fever, headaches and body aches that generally last for a few days.

In Kansas, evidence of West Nile virus has been found in 46 counties, including Douglas County. The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has confirmed four human cases of West Nile virus this year: a 54-year-old in Gray County; a 2-year-old in Ford County; a 65-year-old from Sherman County; and a 38-year-old from Gray County.

In 2002, Kansas reported 22 cases of West Nile virus in humans.

Last year, 4,156 human cases of West Nile virus were reported in 44 states. So far this year, there have been 446 human cases of the virus in 24 states.

To reduce the chance of mosquito bites, people are encouraged to get rid of old tires, containers and debris that can hold water and provide breeding grounds for mosquitoes. People also are encouraged to wear insect repellent containing the chemical DEET, especially at dawn and dusk.

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