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Officials Study West Nile Infections in St. Louis

By Bill Raack, KWMU

St. Louis – State and local public health officials have initiated a new study to determine how many St. Louis area residents the West Nile virus has infected over the past two years.

Blood samples will be taken from about 1,100 randomly selected people.

Dr. Howard Pue, the study coordinator for the Missouri Department of Health, says it will help them estimate how many people were infected during the summers of 2002 and 2003.

"We're trying to get some idea of what areas of St. Louis might be of greater risk or what populations within St. Louis, what people might be at greater risk compared to others so that we can, for one thing, target our educational approaches to these people in the future," Pue said.

The number of reported West Nile cases decreased in Missouri last year, but the number of deaths went up from seven in 2002 to eight last year.