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Published On: Thu, Jun 28th, 2012

Arizona confirms first human case of West Nile Virus this year

A Maricopa County woman in her 30’s is the first laboratory confirmed case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in Arizona in 2012.

Photo/CDC

According to a Maricopa County Department of Public Health news release Wednesday, the woman, who suffered from the meningitis form of the illness, is now recovering at home.

Dr. Bob England, director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health said, “As we know, West Nile is endemic in our environment and the cases that are usually ‘counted’ are frequently the most serious forms of the disease; encephalitis and meningitis.

“Last year about 70 percent of our reported cases were considered neuroinvasive disease, the encephalitis and meningitis versions of West Nile, which are very serious and almost always require hospitalization. West Nile fever or non-neuroinvasive illness is almost always highly underreported because most of the people that do get the virus feel under the weather for a day or two but never require a doctor’s visit and therefore are never tested.”

West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation. West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 in New York. Prior to that it had only been found in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80 percent of people (about 4 out of 5) who are infected with WNV will not show any symptoms at all.

Up to 20 percent of the people who become infected have symptoms such as fever, headache, and body aches, nausea, vomiting, and sometimes swollen lymph glands or a skin rash on the chest, stomach and back. Symptoms can last for as short as a few days, though even healthy people have become sick for several weeks.

About one in 150 people infected with WNV will develop severe illness. The severe symptoms can include high fever, headache, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, vision loss, numbness and paralysis. These symptoms may last several weeks, and neurological effects may be permanent.

There is no specific treatment for WNV infection.

In 2011, Maricopa County experienced a mild West Nile virus season with 45 lab confirmed cases. In 2010, Maricopa County recorded its second worst West Nile virus season with 115 lab confirmed cases. (The worst season was in 2004 with 355 confirmed cases.)

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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