West Nile case in St. Louis County

Thursday, August 28, 2008

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The first human case of West Nile virus in Missouri has been confirmed in a 52-year-old St. Louis County man, health officials said Thursday.

The victim, from Normandy, is expected to make a full recovery. He was treated at a hospital last week.

"He's back to normal activity," county health department spokesman John Shelton said. "He may be tired but he's recovered."

Humans become infected with West Nile after being bitten by infected mosquitoes. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported 342 West Nile-related cases this year, including four others in Missouri.

Those other four cases, while suspected to be West Nile, have not been confirmed, said Karen Yates, vector-borne disease program coordinator for the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services. They involved a woman in Johnson County, a man in Morgan County, a 77-year-old man from St. Charles County and 50-year-old woman from St. Louis city.

Last year, Missouri reported 77 cases, including five deaths. According to the Missouri Health Surveillance Information System, Missouri had 444 reported cases of West Nile, including 30 deaths, from 2002 to 2007.

"This the latest we have ever seen our first confirmed case," Yates said, but she wasn't ready to say the numbers will be down.

"I just don't want people to let down their guard," she said.

CDC cited three deaths nationwide -- one each in Arizona, California and Mississippi.

The virus severely sickens only one in 150 people who are infected with it, according to the CDC. The small minority of people who get severely sick can suffer from high fever, disorientation, convulsions and vision loss. The symptoms can last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

About 20 percent of those infected become only mildly sick, suffering from fever, headache and vomiting. Most people show no symptoms at all, according to the CDC. People over 50 are particularly vulnerable to the disease.

Health officials recommend wearing insect repellent to avoid mosquito bites and reducing areas with standing water where mosquitoes breed.


On the Net:

Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services: www.dhss.mo.gov.

CDC: http://www.cdc.gov

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