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West Nile virus suspected in Clay County

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

State Health officials have reported two probable human cases of the West Nile virus in Clay and Grant counties, bringing the total number of probable human cases in Indiana to 10.

The ages of the 10 probable causes range from 1 year to 79 years old. So far this year, 42 Indiana counties have shown evidence of West Nile virus activity.

State Health officials caution that most cases of West Nile have been reported in September and early October.

According to the Center for Disease Control web site (www.cdc.gov), "West Nile virus is a potentially serious illness. Experts believe WNV is established as a seasonal epidemic in North America that flares up in the summer and continues into the fall."

The site also says that the majority of infected persons will show no symptoms of the virus at all, while some will experience flu-like symptoms for a few days. It continues to say that a few people will have severe symptoms, ranging from headaches to coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis.

WMV is spread through infected mosquitos, blood transfusions, transplants and from mother to child. Casual contact, such as touching and kissing, will not spread the virus. Afflicted persons will generally begin to show symptoms three days to two weeks after infection.

The web site says that there "is no specific treatment for WMV infection," though mild symptoms generally pass on their own. "In more severe cases," it says, "people usually need to go to the hospital where they can receive supportive treatment including intravenous fluids, help with breathing and nursing care."

Mild WMV, it continues, may not even need a hospital visit, as chances of infection are low. Persons over 50 are more susceptible to the disease, and should take care to avoid mosquito bites. To help battle the pests, application of bug spray is recommended. Checking bug screens in the home and removing potential mosquito nests, like tire swings (which can fill with water), is also advised. Finally, the site says that kiddie pools should only be filled when being used and bird baths should be refilled weekly.

More information is available at the CDC web site.

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