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Alabama Man Gets West Nile

A 72-year-old Dale County man has been diagnosed with the West Nile virus -- the first confirmed case of a human infection in the state this year.

The man, who was not identified, was being treated for the virus, which in some people can lead to deadly encephalitis. State officials planned an afternoon news conference Wednesday.

Gov. Don Siegelman planned to announce a statewide action plan aimed at preventing further spread of the virus.

On Oct. 30 last year a 44-year-old Birmingham man died from the virus, the first and only such casualty in Alabama.

Most people bitten by an infected mosquito don't become noticeably ill, but some develop flu-like symptoms, and the weak and the elderly can get encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection.

There have been five deaths from West Nile virus this year in Louisiana, where 71 infections have been reported.

In neighboring Mississippi, 22 cases of human infections have been reported. The number of confirmed cases in which dead birds were found to have the virus in Alabama increased to 176 in 29 counties throughout the state, state health officials said Tuesday.

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West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

Source: www.vdh.state.va.us contributed to this report


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