profrv at nex.net.au
Wed May 12 02:59:04 PDT 1999
West Nile Spreads to Montana, New Mexico as Number of Humans Sickened
By Kristen Wyatt Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 22, 2002
ATLANTA (AP) - The number of Americans who have contracted West Nile virus
this year approached 300 Thursday as the mosquito-borne virus extended its
reach to Montana and New Mexico.
The disease has now killed at least 14 people and infected animals or
humans in all but seven of the lower 48 states. The death toll will rise if
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm two fatal cases of
West Nile reported Thursday in Georgia.
State officials said the victims were a 51-year-old Atlanta man and a
77-year-old man from Columbus, but did not say when they died.
"West Nile virus arrived in Georgia last year, and there is currently no
way to eradicate it, so we expect it to be with us every summer for the
foreseeable future," said Dr. Kathleen Toomey, director of the state's
Division of Public Health.
At least 33 people have died since the virus appeared in the United States
Most of this year's deaths and the 296 reported human cases have occurred
in the South. Louisiana alone accounts for 147 illnesses and eight fatalities.
Dr. Lyle Petersen, a CDC expert on the virus, said it probably will always
be worse in the South because warm weather means more mosquitoes.
"But outbreaks could eventually happen anywhere," he added.
Montana health officials on Thursday confirmed finding West Nile in a
horse. New Mexico officials said two horses there were infected.
"I'm sure if we keep looking hard enough we'll find some more," said
Thurman Reitz, assistant New Mexico state veterinarian. "I don't have any
reason to think it's going to quit at the Texas border."
The virus can cause flu-like symptoms and encephalitis, a potentially fatal
brain infection. Most people bitten by an infected bug never get sick.
The virus is most dangerous for children, the elderly and people with weak
immune systems. There is no cure for humans.
West Nile is common in Africa and the Middle East. Since 1999, when the
virus reached New York, mosquitoes have spread the virus south and west.
The CDC has repeatedly said the virus eventually will reach the West Coast.
"We fully expect that over time the virus will make it to the West. But the
timing of that is unknown," Petersen said. "Whether it's this year or next
year or the year after that is just a matter of conjecture."
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