Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Grant Co. gets West Nile case



By Stephenie Steitzer
The Cincinnati Enquirer

With the pace of West Nile virus infection picking up since the end of July, Kentucky's third case of 2003 has been found in a Grant County resident who has encephalitis.

There have been seven West Nile cases in Ohio so far this year, but none in Indiana.

A U.S. health official said last week that the number of West Nile virus cases has tripled since the end of July and will likely top last year's record of 4,156 cases and 284 deaths.

So far this year, 153 people in 16 states are infected, compared with 112 cases in four states at this time last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It indicates we are starting the epidemic with more cases than last year," CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding said.

West Nile virus can cause a flulike illness and, in some cases, lead to life-threatening meningitis or encephalitis.

Spokeswoman Gwenda Bond would not release the name or age of the Grant County individual, citing the recently adopted federal health privacy act.

Bond said the two other cases of West Nile in Kentucky are in Greenup and Boone counties. A Boone County resident showed signs of the fever last week, but was not hospitalized.

While no other cases have been reported in the Tristate, infected birds and mosquitoes have been found, Bond said.

In Ohio, the closest West Nile case is in Licking County, just east of Columbus.

Bond said area residents should use mosquito repellant with DEET, get rid of sources of standing water where mosquitoes can breed, and avoid outdoor activities between dusk and dawn.

The Associated Press contributed. E-mail ssteitzer@enquirer.com.




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