Alabama Man Has West Nile

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An unidentified 72-year-old man in Dale County, Alabama, is the first known human case of West Nile virus in the state. Officials say they're increasing efforts to try to eliminate mosquito breeding grounds statewide.

"We have asked the Department of Transportation to get with all the district engineers throughout the state to make sure that all the roadways and waterways are cleared of any standing or stagnant water," said Jim Buckalew, the governor's chief of staff. "And in an effort to make sure that there is no larvae on the side that is growing along those areas. "

"What the governor asked me to do is to coordinate the various agencies throughout the state," said Mike Sumrall, Alabama's director of homeland security, "to make sure that we are getting maximum utilization of all resources that we have available to make sure that we can do everything that we can possibly can to mitigate the threat of today."

State officials suspect the West Nile virus is present in all of Alabama's 67 counties, though not every county has a confirmed case. Extended Web Coverage

West Nile virus Facts

  • The West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne virus that can cause encephalitis (an inflammation of the brain) or meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the brain and spinal cord) in humans and other animals.

  • The virus is named after the West Nile region of Uganda where it was first isolated in1937.

  • The virus appeared for the first time in the United States during a 1999 outbreak in New York that killed seven people.

How is the West Nile virus Spread?

  • The virus is spread to humans, birds and other animals through the bite of an infected mosquito.

  • A mosquito becomes infected by biting a bird that is carrying the virus.

  • West Nile virus is not spread from person to person, and no evidence indicates the virus can be spread directly from birds to humans.

  • Only a small population of mosquitoes are likely to be infected and most people bitten by an infected mosquito do not become sick.

  • 1 in 300 people bitten by an infected mosquito get sick.

  • 1 in 100-150 who get sick become seriously ill.

  • 3 to 15 percent of those seriously ill die.

Symptoms of the Virus

  • The symptoms generally appear about 3 to 6 days after exposure. People over the age of 50 are at a greater risk of severe illness.

  • Milder symptoms include: Slight fever, headache, body aches, swollen glands and/or sometimes a skin rash.

  • Severe symptoms include: High fever, intense headache, stiff neck, and/or confusion.

Protecting Yourself

  • Control mosquitoes from breeding around your home.

  • Wear long and light colored clothing.

  • Use insect repellent products with no ore than 20-30 percent DEET for adults and less than 10 percent for children.

  • Spray repellent on your hands and then apply to your face. Be sure repellent is safe for human skin.

  • Wash off repellent daily and reapply as needed.

Source: contributed to this report