- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 8, 2001

Doctors believe a 63-year-old Baltimore County woman has West Nile virus the second case reported in Maryland in as many days.
The woman had experienced seizures and was unconscious when she was admitted to a hospital in Baltimore City at the end of August, said Deputy Secretary for Public Health Services Arlene Stephenson.
Subsequent tests found her to have meningoencephalitis, an infection of the brain, spinal column and coverings, which can be caused by the West Nile virus.
Health authorities in Maryland say they are 98 percent positive the woman has the West Nile infection, but will have to wait for a full confirmation through additional tests from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Mrs. Stephenson said the woman's condition was now improving.
On Thursday, a 72-year-old man in Baltimore City's Gwynns Falls area was diagnosed with the virus the first human case in Maryland. Health officials in Maryland expect a CDC confirmation on this case in about a week's time. The man is in serious but stable condition in Baltimore's Sinai Hospital, a hospital spokesman said.
The woman, who is not being identified, is the 12th person to test positive for the virus in the country this year.
A woman in Atlanta died of the West Nile virus last month.
"It is disturbing that we have had two cases in Maryland," Mrs. Stephenson said. "The West Nile virus is here to stay."
However, she added that only certain parts of the population faced a high risk.
Apart from those over 50, "people with chronic illnesses like those on kidney dialysis or those suffering from HIV and cancer are mostly at risk," she said. In most others, the virus may cause mild, flulike symptoms.
The West Nile virus was first discovered in the United States in August 1999 when it was found in birds near the Bronx Zoo in New York.
In Baltimore, it was first found in a crow in September 1999.
This year, 260 birds have tested positive in the state, including 11 in Montgomery County and 25 in Prince George's County. More than 40 birds have tested positive in the District and four have tested positive in Virginia.
The virus is carried by birds and transmitted to humans via mosquitoes.
In the Eastpoint area of Baltimore County, where the infected woman lives, two mosquito pools and five birds have tested positive for the virus, Mrs. Stephenson said. Mosquitoes in both pools that tested positive belonged to the Culex pipiens family, most commonly believed to carry the virus.
The virus has been concentrated mainly in urban areas, but Mrs. Stephenson said that could be only because surveillance appears to be better in highly populated areas.
Baltimore already has started spraying for mosquitoes. It had already sprayed in the Eastpoint area on Sept. 4, she said. There are plans to spray the area again on Tuesday.
Trucks will also begin spraying the Mondawmin Mall and Gwynns Falls areas beginning 8 p.m. on Monday.
"We want to be sure any positive [testing positive for West Nile virus] mosquitoes in that area are eliminated," said Donald Vandrey, a state agriculture department spokes-man. "It's an attempt to eliminate the mosquitoes and ease the concern of the people who live in that area."
Meanwhile, Mrs. Stephenson said, people must be vigilant. They must remove all standing water around their houses, for instance, in rain gutters and plant holders, to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
"Mosquitoes can even breed in a bottle-cap filled with water," she said.
People are also advised, when outdoors after dusk, to wear clothing that covers the hands and legs.
This story is based in part on wire service reports.


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