Oswego County Public Information Office, 46 East Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126

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Oct. 13, 2004

Oswego County Resident Suspected of Having West Nile Virus

Kathleen Smith, Oswego County Health Commissioner, announced today that an Oswego County resident is hospitalized in University Hospital in Syracuse with a suspected case of West Nile virus.

The 64-year-old man is being treated for symptoms of encephalitis.

Preliminary tests show the patient is infected with a form of encephalitis that is carried by the strain of flavi virus. The Oswego County Health Department received the report from the State Health Department Friday afternoon, Oct. 15. Additional testing is being done to confirm whether the patient has West Nile virus or St. Louis encephalitis. Approximately 90 percent of the flavi virus cases are West Nile virus.

Most people infected with West Nile don't experience symptoms. People over age 50 and people with weakened immune systems are most susceptible to the disease. It is estimated that one in 150 persons infected with West Nile virus develop the more severe form of the disease. Symptoms usually develop five to 15 days after exposure.

Symptoms of a severe infection of West Nile encephalitis can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, muscle weakness, stupor, disorientation, tremors, convulsion, paralysis, and coma. Anyone who has these symptoms should see a doctor immediately.

West Nile virus is transmitted through the bite of an infected mosquito. Smith noted that the mosquito season is winding down due to cooler temperatures. People should still take steps to reduce their risk of mosquito bites:

  • Many mosquitoes that can transmit West Nile virus lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. Any poor drainage around the yard can provide an outdoor home for mosquitoes to breed. To reduce the mosquito population in and around your home, reduce or eliminate all standing water around the home.
  • Wear shoes and socks, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt when you are outdoors for long periods of time.
  • Use a mosquito repellent when it is necessary to be outdoors at times when mosquitoes are most active. Be sure to follow the directions on the label. Do not let children apply mosquito repellent themselves.

As of Oct. 8, five dead birds had tested positive for West Nile virus in Oswego County, and one dead bird tested positive for both West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis, another arthropod-borne viral disease. The New York State Department of Health had reported five human cases of West Nile in New York State through Oct. 8. There have been no reported human deaths from West Nile in New York State in 2004.

To learn more about how to reduce your risk of mosquito-borne illnesses, call the New York State Department of Health toll free number, 1-800-458-1158 or visit www.health.state.ny.us/nysdoh/westnile/

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