D.C. diagnoses West Nile virus in human

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Local,DC,Alan Blinder

D.C. health officials said Wednesday that the West Nile virus has again surfaced in the District and infected a human.

"Since the beginning of the summer, the District of Columbia Department of Health has identified the West Nile virus in several mosquito samples throughout the District," interim health director Saul Levin said in a statement. "Despite the positive samples, there has only been one confirmed [nonfatal] case."

Najma Roberts, a spokeswoman for the health department, said a local hospital treated the patient, but she had no other information about the case.

So far this year, authorities in Maryland have reported nine West Nile cases, and Virginia officials said two people in their state have been diagnosed.

West Nile is a mosquito-borne virus that can prompt an array of symptoms including diarrhea, nausea and fever. In extreme cases, the virus results in meningitis-like symptoms such as a stiff neck or muscle weakness.

About 10 percent of patients who contract a severe strain of West Nile do not survive, federal health officials said.

The District made its announcement hours after the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said this summer's West Nile outbreak is one of the most widespread since the virus arrived in the United States in 1999.

Health officials reported a total of 1,118 human infections across the country this year, leading to 41 deaths. Most of the infections, though, were concentrated in five states: Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas.

CDC records show that the District has reported an infection in a human every year since 2008. Last year, the city said 15 people were infected, accounting for a small part of the 715 cases nationwide.

In 2002, the District recorded 34 West Nile infections, the most ever in the city.

ablinder@washingtonexaminer.com

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Author:

Alan Blinder

Staff Reporter, D.C. City Hall
The Washington Examiner