September 4, 2005 in Idaho

Woman contracts West Nile virus

Associated Press

WEISER, Idaho – A Washington County woman has been diagnosed with the potentially fatal West Nile virus, the Southwest District Health Department said.

The woman, whose name was not released, began showing symptoms in August and was hospitalized for a time, officials said. She is now recovering at home.

“We presume she (contracted) the virus in Washington County, but her travel history within Idaho makes this unclear,” health division administrator Jan Edmonds said in a prepared statement. “Since this county has seen positive mosquito pools and horse cases, it is highly likely she acquired the virus here, also.”

It is the fourth human case of West Nile virus in the state, officials said, and the second case detected this year.

Earlier this year, a 58-year-old truck driver from Ada County was diagnosed with West Nile virus. He recovered. In addition, Idaho has reported at least nine cases in which horses were infected with the virus, in Canyon, Gooding, Owyhee and Gem counties. Birds testing positive for the disease were found in Canyon and Gem counties, and positive mosquito tests were found in Canyon and Payette counties.

West Nile virus was first discovered in Uganda in 1937, and has recently spread beyond its traditional boundaries to Europe and the United States.

Most people infected with West Nile virus have no symptoms or will have only a mild flu-like illness. Less than 1 percent of those infected with West Nile virus develop a serious illness.

Of 689 cases reported nationwide as of Aug. 30, there have been 16 deaths, officials said.

One in about 150 cases will be severe and can lead to coma, convulsions, paralysis or death.

To protect against the illness, people are advised to use a government-approved insect repellent and cover their exposed skin when outside.

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