St. Louis County man first to be sickened by West Nile virus

2013-09-11T14:01:00Z 2013-09-12T07:01:24Z St. Louis County man first to be sickened by West Nile virusBy Blythe Bernhard 314-340-8129

A 54-year-old man from St. Louis County has the state’s first case of West Nile virus this summer, state health officials reported this week.

The man contracted the mosquito-borne virus in mid-August, was hospitalized and is recovering.

West Nile virus has not been as prevalent this summer after infecting 21 people in Missouri in 2012. Nationwide, 696 cases have been reported compared to nearly 5,700 last year.

State health officials also reported a probable case of dengue fever in a 27-year-old woman from St. Louis County. Dengue is also transmitted by mosquitoes and is most common in tropical regions. The woman did not become infected in Missouri, according to the state report.

Illinois has reported three cases of West Nile virus this summer, with none in the Metro East. The state reported 290 cases last year.

Most West Nile virus cases occur from June through September. The virus causes no symptoms in the majority of people who become infected. Some will develop flu-like illness, including fever and body aches. In rare cases, the virus can cause brain swelling and death. There is no treatment for the virus or vaccine to prevent it.

Health officials recommend using insect repellent, avoiding the outdoors when mosquitoes are most active at dusk and getting rid of standing water around the home.

Blythe Bernhard covers health and medicine for the Post-Dispatch. Follow her on twitter @blythebernhard

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