West Nile Virus death in Alabama - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

West Nile Virus death in Alabama

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The concern about West Nile Virus continues to grow.  One person in Montgomery County has died, others have experienced neurological issues, and others have had less serious illnesses. The Alabama Department of Public Health is investigating cases of West Nile virus (WNV) statewide.  Of the 12 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus, 9 are male and 3 are female adults. Six are from Montgomery County. 

When a person is infected, early recognition and prompt supportive treatment for these illnesses can substantially lower the risk of developing severe disease. About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to WNV will die. People over 50 years of age and those with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease and organ transplants, are at greater risk for serious illness.

Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE), WNV and other mosquito-borne viruses are transmitted by mosquitoes after they feed on birds. The same mosquitoes can then infect mammals, particularly humans and horses. Like humans, horses can sometimes become seriously ill from these infections.

Effective vaccination is available for horses. In 2012, there have been 7 cases of EEE in horses, including 4 cases in horses located in Dallas County, and 1 case each in Elmore, Mobile and Montgomery counties. Epidemiologists point out that EEE can be more dangerous to people and other mammals than other mosquito-borne viruses, but that the same mosquito prevention measures reduce exposures to any of these diseases.

In addition, 3 cases of WNV have been confirmed in horses. One case was in a horse in Jefferson County, 1 in Mobile County and 1 in Montgomery County.

For WNV and EEE in humans, there are no commercially available medications for treatment or vaccines for prevention. People with milder illnesses typically recover on their own, although symptoms may last for several weeks. In more severe cases, patients often need to be hospitalized to receive supportive treatment, such as intravenous fluids, pain medication and nursing care. Anyone who has symptoms that cause concern should contact a health care provider.