Butler County woman catches eastern equine encephalitis

Saturday, July 26, 2003

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- A Butler County woman may be the first Missourian in at least 40 years to have contracted a rare virus transmitted by mosquitoes, the state Department of Health said Friday.

The department said the 54-year-old woman, who was not identified, has a suspected case of eastern equine encephalitis, a virus that is sometimes found in wild birds and is occasionally transmitted from them to humans by the bite of infected mosquitoes.

Missouri health officials said the woman is recovering.

Between 1964 and 2000, there were 182 confirmed human cases of the disease nationally and none in Missouri. Last month, a Georgia man died after contracting the virus. The virus kills up to half the people who catch it, compared with up to 15 percent for West Nile, another mosquito-borne virus that surfaced nationwide and in Missouri last year.

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