State records 1st West Nile case of season


Minnesota has recorded its first case of West Nile, the mosquito-borne virus that can cause flu-like symptoms and can be – in very rare cases – fatal.

The Minnesota Health Department has confirmed that a Pope County woman became sick Aug. 2 with West Nile fever, but she did not require hospitalization, FOX 9 reports.

West Nile has taken a lot longer to surface in Minnesota this year than it did last year, when the first human case was reported in July.

West Nile was first detected in mosquitoes this season in a sample of the bugs collected in Scott County in early July.

Relatively low risk

Minnesota health officials keep close tabs on West Nile, given the state's prosperous mosquito population.

But your risks of getting West Nile fever, or the more serious West Nile encephalitis, are relatively low. About one in five people develop a fever and flu-like symptoms from the West Nile virus, but most people don't get any symptoms at all, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Only 1 out of 150 people bitten by an infected mosquito will develop the more severe form of West Nile, West Nile encephalitis, Minnesota health officials say. Click here for more facts and figures from the department.

3 deaths last year

The state health department reported that there were 73 confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Minnesota last year and three deaths. In 2012, there was one West Nile-related death in the state, in Stevens County.

The health department has a map of where all the cases of West Nile virus occurred in the state in 2013.

The department also has a list of prevention tips on its website. The department urges people to wear mosquito repellent containing up to 30 percent DEET (10 percent for children) to avoid mosquito bites. The risk for West Nile virus continues until the first frost, David Nietzel with the Minnesota Department of Health, told WCCO.

For more information, check out this Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website, or visit this University of Minnesota page.

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Health officials brace for spike in West Nile cases

Mosquito-friendly Minnesota is ranked No. 9 among states for West Nile cases this year (20 cases and one death). Health officials nationwide expect there could be a sharp rise in West Nile virus cases as the disease peaks over the next six weeks. They worry that this year's high case count could be just a taste of the future, as changing weather patterns allow the mosquitoes that carry the deadly disease to flourish.