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Published On: Sun, Jul 28th, 2013

Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, North Dakota and Idaho report their first cases of West Nile virus of 2013

At least five states reported their first human cases of West Nile virus (WNV) this past week according to state health departments. Reporting initial cases this week include Indiana, Wisconsin, Louisiana, North Dakota and Idaho.

Image/CDC

Image/CDC

In the Hoosier State, the case was reported from Ripley County. “It is the time of the year when Hoosiers are at risk of getting West Nile virus and should take precautions against getting bitten by mosquitoes,” said Jennifer House, Director of Zoonotic & Veterinary Epidemiology at the Indiana State Department of Health. “Last year there were 77 cases in Indiana.”

In Wisconsin, the first human case of WNV was diagnosed in a Dane County resident. During 2012, 57 Wisconsin residents developed symptomatic WNV infection, and five of these reported cases occurred among Dane County residents, according to health officials.

Louisiana was one of the hardest hit states during the 2012 outbreak. The Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals has reported the state’s first case of West Nile virus in a human in 2013 in Caldwell Parish.

“It is a little late in the summer for Louisiana to see its first human case of West Nile Virus” Dr. Raoult Ratard, State Epidemiologist said. “This could be related to Louisiana having a cooler Spring, which meant mosquitoes did not breed as early in the year.”

Last year, Louisiana saw 160 cases of West Nile virus neuroinvasive disease (the more serious type) in the state.

A Grant County 30-something woman is the first human case of  WNV disease in 2013 in North Dakota. “The identification of West Nile virus in a person is a reminder of the importance of taking precautions to protect ourselves from the bites of mosquitoes,” said Alicia Lepp, epidemiologist with the North Dakota Department of Health.

A Payette County man in his 40s has tested positive for West Nile virus (WNV). He is the first human case of West Nile virus reported in Idaho for 2013. He has been diagnosed with a severe form of the infection and is hospitalized.

These states can be added to the states who previously reported human WNV cases –Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Washington.

WNV is spread from humans through the bite of an infected mosquito; mosquitoes can become infected by biting a bird that carries the virus. Most mosquitoes do not carry the virus and most people bitten by a mosquito are not exposed to the virus. The virus is not spread through person-to- person contact, or directly from birds to humans.

In most cases, people who are infected with West Nile virus never become sick, or have only very mild symptoms that include fever, headache, nausea, body aches, and a mild skin rash.

Symptoms of WNV could appear within three to 12 days after infection. Fewer than one in 150 people who are bitten by an infected mosquito become severely ill, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In these rare cases, the virus can cause encephalitis and death. The elderly and those with weakened immune systems are most at risk for developing severe symptoms, which may require hospitalization.

Recovery from any infection with the virus can take months to years and include symptoms of fatigue, malaise, and depression. There is no specific treatment for this disease.

In 2012, all 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico reported West Nile virus infections in people, birds, or mosquitoes. A total of 5,674 cases of West Nile virus disease in people, including 286 deaths, were reported to CDC.

Of these, 2,873 (51%) were classified as neuroinvasive disease (such as meningitis or encephalitis) and 2,801 (49%) were classified as non-neuroinvasive disease. The numbers of neuroinvasive, non-neuroinvasive, and total West Nile virus disease cases reported in 2012 are the highest since 2003.

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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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