Truckers: Keep your skeeter spray handy

| Monday, September 23, 2002

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has confirmed 85 deaths from West Nile virus, and now links disease to paralysis and blood transfusions

The West Nile virus claimed its 23rd victim in Illinois Thursday, health officials said. The state's total of confirmed cases now stands at 457, more than Louisiana and Michigan, which have 238 and 219 respectively. Thirty-two states now have cases tested positive for the disease.

The CDC is warning doctors to watch for other complications of West Nile. Health officials warned Thursday the virus most likely can survive in the blood for days and "probably be spread through transfusions" after a woman in Mississippi contracted West Nile through transfusions with blood from three infected donors. All blood donations now will be screened for the virus as soon as a test can be developed, officials said.

Furthermore, the CDC is urging doctors to test patients for West Nile if they report sudden, painless paralysis but do not appear to have had a stroke. Most of the reported paralysis cases are in Mississippi and Louisiana and have occurred in middle-aged people who were previously healthy.

Thirty-two states have confirmed cases of West Nile and total deaths among those states have risen to 85, according to the CDC. The CDC updates its web site every Friday and Monday at www.cdc.gov.

CDC reminds people who live in highly infected areas or hold outdoor jobs to avoid being outdoors at dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active. If people do go outside, they should wear long loose-sleeved shirts and long pants. Spray with mosquito repellent containing the chemical DEET, but do not use the spray on animals.

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