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Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical Center - Houston, Texas

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Houston VA Medical Center Confirms Case of West Nile Virus

July 22, 2002

Houston VA Medical Center Confirms Case of West Nile Virus
Released: 2002/07/22

HOUSTON, TX - The Houston VA Medical Center (HVAMC) admitted a 50-year male veteran on Friday, July 19, 2002 who presented the clinical symptoms of West Nile Virus encephalitis.

"We were suspicious because the veteran lives in Orange County, Texas where they have had documented West Nile Virus activity. The gentleman also spends a great deal of time outdoors," said Dr. Daniel Musher, Chief of Infectious Disease at the HVAMC.

Testing, performed by the City of Houston Health Department Laboratory, confirmed the diagnosis on Tuesday, July 23, 2002.

West Nile Virus is a mosquito-borne disease that can cause encephalitis, or a brain infection. Mosquitoes acquire the virus from birds and pass it on to other birds, animals, and people. West Nile is not transmitted person-to-person.

The symptoms of West Nile encephalitis include fever, headache, and body aches, occasionally with skin rash and swollen lymph glands. More severe infection may be marked by high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, muscle weakness, and disorientation.

"We don't expect people to go sit in their homes from now until the end of September and not go outside," explained Dr. Musher. "But if someone is going to have extensive outdoor exposure during these next few months, we think it would be very reasonable and prudent for them to use a good mosquito repellant."

The veteran, suffering from West Nile Virus encephalitis, is currently in stable condition and receiving appropriate care at the Houston VA Medical Center.

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Point of Contact: VHAHOU Public Affairs

04/21/04 08:25