CDC: Second death from encephalitis

Published 8:50 am Monday, August 25, 2003

By Staff
From Alabama Department of Health
A Montgomery County man in his 40s and a Mobile County man in his 80s are receiving treatment for West Nile virus. This brings to 14 the number of human cases in the state in 2003. There have been two deaths from the virus in the state this year, both in persons in their 80s.
West Nile virus infections in humans have been reported from the following counties: Baldwin, two cases including one fatal case; Blount, one case; Calhoun, one case; Geneva two cases; Marshall, one case; Mobile, three cases; Monroe, one case; Montgomery, one case; Shelby, one case; and Talladega, one fatal case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has confirmed that a Conecuh County man in his 60s died from Eastern equine encephalitis. This is the second case and second death from Eastern equine encephalitis this year in Alabama. The other was a fatal case of Eastern equine encephalitis in a 8-year-old boy in Escambia County.
West Nile virus and Eastern equine encephalitis virus have been detected across a broad geographic region of the state. West Nile virus has thus far been detected in mosquitoes, horses, birds and humans in 28 counties distributed throughout Alabama. Eastern equine encephalitis virus has been detected in mosquitoes, horses, birds and an emu distributed across 21 counties in Alabama.
The cases remind the public of the need to take personal precautionary measures to prevent exposure and reduce the risk of being bitten by infected mosquitoes.
"Alabamians should take precautions to avoid mosquito bites," said Dr. Donald Williamson, state health officer. "The risk of disease from mosquito bites will probably increase and only subside when a freeze in late fall kills the mosquitoes."
In 2002 Alabama experienced 49 human cases of West Nile virus infection, three of which were fatal.
Both viruses in humans cause a spectrum of illness ranging from infection without any symptoms to encephalitis involving fever, headache and possibly confusion, disorientation, stupor, tremors, convulsions, paralysis, coma and death. Most people who are infected do not get sick.
People with encephalitis are sick enough that they will seek medical care and be hospitalized. The seriousness of an illness may depend on a person's health and age.
West Nile virus affects the elderly most severely and Eastern equine encephalitis is most severe in both the young and the elderly. Eastern equine encephalitis in humans can have a mortality rate as high as 30 percent, considerably higher than that seen with West Nile encephalitis.
Avoid being outside during dawn and dusk when mosquitoes are most active.
Dress to cover your skin with protective clothing. Protect bare skin with mosquito repellent that contains DEET, and drain empty containers holding stagnant water in which mosquitoes breed.

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