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3rd West Nile virus death reported in Arkansas

The Arkansas Department of Health says another person has died from the West Nile virus.
LITTLE ROCK, AR – The Arkansas Department of Health says another person has died from the West Nile virus.

That brings the total to 3 deaths out of 27 cases in 2012, according to ADH.

Nationwide, there have been 1,590 reported cases resulting in 66 deaths.

The CDC has reported cases of West Nile virus in the following Arkansas counties:

Clark County 
Columbia County 
Crawford County 
Drew County 
Hempstead County 
Jefferson County 
Little River County 
Lonoke County 
Madison County 
Miller County 
Pulaski County 
Randolph County 
Saline County 
Sebastian County 
Union County

CDC: West Nile cases rise 40 percent in 1 week

West Nile virus cases are up 40 percent since last week and may rival the record years of 2002 and 2003, federal health officials said Wednesday.

So far this year, 1,590 cases of the mosquito-borne disease have been reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and 66 deaths.

About half of the cases are serious illnesses, and the CDC considers those the best indicator of West Nile activity because many mild cases do not get reported and their symptoms may not even be recognized.

Typical symptoms are fever, headache and body aches, and most people get better on their own in a few days. Less than 1 percent develops neurological symptoms such as stiff necks and even coma and paralysis.

Based on reports of West Nile so far this year, "we think the numbers may come close" to those of 2002 and 2003, when nearly 3,000 severe illnesses and more than 260 deaths occurred each year, said the CDC's top expert on the disease, Dr. Lyle Petersen.

Health officials think that West Nile activity will peak in mid-to-late August, but likely will continue through October. Because symptoms can take two weeks to appear, reporting cases lags behind when people became infected.

The disease first appeared in the United States in 1999. Officials say this year's early spring and hot summer may have contributed to the current boom in cases. Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds and then spread the virus to people they bite.

All states except Alaska and Hawaii have found West Nile virus in people, birds or mosquitoes this year. Texas has been the hardest hit, accounting for half of the cases reported to the CDC so far.

"I'm not convinced that we have peaked. We may have plateaued," said Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

The CDC also says it does not expect Hurricane Isaac to have much of an impact on cases in Southern states. Heavy storms can wash out mosquito breeding grounds, although standing water can aid breeding, Petersen said. Many other factors, such as the population of infected birds, influence the severity of West Nile outbreaks, he said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Prevention info from ADH

The best way to prevent West Nile virus disease is to avoid mosquito bites. Do this by practicing the “Three D’s.”

• Drain standing water from your yard. Empty standing water in flowerpots, buckets and kiddie pools.
• Don’t go out at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes feed without protective clothing (long sleeves and pants).
• Do use insect repellents with the active ingredient DEET when you go outdoors.

Approximately one in five people who are infected with West Nile virus will develop symptoms such as fever, headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea or rash. Less than one percent will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus 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.

There are no medications to treat, or vaccines to prevent, human West Nile virus infection. 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
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