- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

From combined dispatches
Two more Virginians have tested positive for the West Nile virus, bringing the number of human cases of the infection in Virginia to three, state health officials said yesterday.
The Virginia Department of Health said its tests showed the mosquito-borne virus in blood samples taken from a 65-year-old Fairfax County man and a 42-year-old Hanover County man. The samples have been sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta for confirmation, with results not expected for at least 10 days.
Both men were hospitalized with the illness, the health department said. The Fairfax man was admitted to the hospital Aug. 17 and has been released. He is recovering well, the department said.
The Hanover man was hospitalized Aug. 15 and remains in the hospital in stable but guarded condition, the health department said.
Virginia's first human case of West Nile infection was announced Aug. 22. That case involved a 33-year-old Richmond man. Health department officials said he had contracted a mild form of the disease and subsequently recovered.
In a statement issued yesterday, state Health Commissioner Robert B. Stroube said more cases of West Nile virus in humans in Virginia are likely.
"While we reasonably have to expect more human cases in Virginia this year, the risk of serious illness from West Nile remains low," he said.
Health officials have said the virus does not pose a threat to most people and harms mostly the elderly, the young and people with compromised immune systems. Symptoms of the mild form of the disease include fever, malaise and headaches.
The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito and can infect people, horses, many types of birds and some other animals.
On Tuesday, Illinois health officials reported that the state's death toll from the West Nile virus had doubled to four, the latest indication that the mosquito-borne virus, focused on the South, was increasingly infecting people farther north.
Nationally, 21 deaths from West Nile virus have been reported to the CDC, not including the Illinois cases.
The most recent Illinois fatalities were an 83-year-old man from Chicago who died Aug. 21, and a 92-year-old woman from the suburbs north of the city who died Saturday.
Both had West Nile encephalitis an inflammation of the brain and the man also had other conditions that might have contributed to his death, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.
The CDC said 453 human cases of West Nile virus have been reported so far this year in the country's worst outbreak since the virus first was detected here in 1999. Seven persons died in New York that year, and the virus has since been found in animals or humans in 41 states.
The virus has been reported from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes, but it has done most of its damage this year in the South especially in Louisiana, with 171 human cases and eight deaths. Louisiana officials said last week they believe the number of new cases there was decreasing, while northern states have seen their numbers increase.

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