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Test comes back positive for West Nile in Schuylkill

Published July 05. 2011 05:01PM

The West Nile virus has been detected in Schuylkill County.

No humans in Schuylkill have reportedly contracted the virus, but a mosquito tested last week proved positive.

It's the first positive testing located this year in Schuylkill County.

There have been no positive testings in Carbon, Monroe, Lehigh or Northampton counties.

For the year, there have been 17 positive mosquito testings in Pennsylvania for West Nile virus. There were positive testings in 2010 in every local county. During that summer, there were 28 human cases of West Nile in the state and 1,112 mosquitoes tested positive. None of the human cases were local.

The Pa. Department of Health says West Nile virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, a brain inflammation.

There are about 60 different species of mosquitoes in Pennsylvania. While most do not transmit West Nile virus, several mosquito species have been found to transmit the virus.

Mosquitoes lay their eggs in stagnant water around the home. Weeds, tall grass, shrubbery and discarded tires also provide an outdoor home for adult mosquitoes. The Department of Health says by eliminating places for mosquitoes to breed, we can go a long way to prevent West Nile virus.

WNV is closely related to St. Louis encephalitis virus (SLEV) which is found in the United States and to Kunjin virus (KV) which is found in Australia, some Western Pacific islands and parts of South East Asia, says the health department.

West Nile virus was first detected in North America in 1999 in New York, and in Pennsylvania in 2000. Prior to that it had only been found in Africa, Eastern Europe, and West Asia.

People with mild infections may experience fever, headache, body aches, skin rash and swollen lymph glands. Most people who are infected with the West Nile virus will not have any type of illness.

It is estimated that 20 percent of the people who become infected will develop West Nile fever: mild symptoms, including fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with a skin rash on the trunk of the body and swollen lymph glands.

The symptoms of severe infection (West Nile encephalitis or meningitis) include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, muscle weakness, and paralysis. It is estimated that 1 in 150 persons infected with the West Nile virus will develop a more severe form of disease.

Symptoms of mild disease will generally last a few days. Symptoms of severe disease may last several weeks, although neurological effects may be permanent.

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