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St. Louis County reports first probable human West Nile case of the year

Mosquitoes with the West Nile virus have been found in St. Louis County for the first time this sumemer
(via Flickr/John Tann)

St. Louis County has reported its first probable human case of West Nile Virus.

The victim was a 55-year-old woman from Kirkwood. She’s believed to have contracted the mosquito-transmitted disease early this summer and has since completely recovered.

Credit (via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The Director of Communicable Disease Control at the St. Louis County Department of Health, Dr. Faisal Khan, says most people who are infected with the virus don’t develop any symptoms.

Mild cases experience something like the flu, but about 1 in 150 people will get severely ill.

“Symptoms such as high fever, a severe headache, neck stiffness, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, even paralysis, and they can last several weeks, and some neurological effects in fact may be permanent,” Khan said.

Khan says the very young and those above age 50 are particularly at risk of becoming infected, as well as anyone who works outdoors.

He says everyone should cover up and use mosquito repellent, particularly at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

He also recommends emptying any outdoor containers of standing water where mosquitoes can breed.

This has been an especially bad year for West Nile Virus in some parts of the country, but Missouri has had only a handful of cases. Saint Louis County reported two confirmed cases in 2011.

Follow Kelsey Proud on Twitter: @KelseyProud

Follow Véronique LaCapra on Twitter: @KWMUscience

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