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Local boy contracts West Nile Virus

September 6, 2012

The story of Summer 2012 has been the record-breaking effects of West Nile Virus, a story that hits close to home with the news that an Antlers boy is among those who have contracted the illness.

Although symptoms range from mild to life-threatening, the boy suffered a milder case of the virus, according to his grandmother.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as of August 28th, 80 cases of West Nile Virus have been reported in Oklahoma, including five deaths. Oklahoma ranks third for highest number of WNV-related deaths reported this year, behind Texas (30), and Louisiana (6).

Recently, McCurtain County has been added to the counties who have reported confirmed cases of West Nile with 3-5 people infected.

Throughout the United States, 48 states have reported cases, with a total of 1,590 cases, including 65 deaths.

The CDC divides cases of West Nile Virus into two categories: neuroinvasive and nonneuroinvasive.

Neuroinvasive cases include severe cases of the virus affecting the nervous system. These cases include encephalitis, a brain inflammation; meningitis, an inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord; and acute flaccid paralysis, a spinal cord inflammation capable of causing sudden weakness in the limbs or breathing muscles.

Nonneuroinvasive cases include less severe cases showing no neuroinvasion, usually West Nile fever. While considered a notifiable illness, reported cases may be affected by factors such as whether the affected person seeks care, laboratory diagnosis and reports to health authorities by the treating physician.

Serious cases are more likely to be reported than mild or asymptomatic cases.

Of the cases reported in Oklahoma, 54 cases were neuroinvasive and 26 cases were nonneuroinvasive.

Mild cases of the disease may include the following symptoms: Abdominal pain, diarrhea, fever, headache, lack of appetite, muscle aches, nausea, rash, sore throat, swollen lymph nodes and vomiting. Symptoms generally last 3-6 days.

More severe forms, which may be life-threatening, may cause the following symptoms: Confusion, loss of consciousness or coma, muscle weakness, stiff neck, weakness of one arm or leg. Persons with these symptoms should seek medical attention.

West Nile Virus is believed to be spread when a mosquito bites an infected bird and then bites a person. Late August to early September see the highest rates of the disease, with risk decreasing as temperatures cool and mosquitoes die off.

Many people are bitten by mosquitoes carrying the virus, but most are unaware they've been exposed and few people develop the severe form of the disease or even notice symptoms at all.

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