The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health announced today there is a confirmed human case of West Nile Virus in a female resident of Shelby County. The TDH Laboratory in Nashville confirmed positive results for WNV. This individual, who likely became infected in late July, has been discharged from a local hospital where she was treated for encephalitis and is recovering.
The confirmation of this third human case to date follows the identification of high numbers of Culex mosquitoes in the Shelby County area, along with many pools of mosquitoes testing positive for West Nile virus. The majority of infections result in mild illness or no illness at all. However, a small percentage of those infected will develop a more severe form of the disease.
Humans catch the disease through being bitten by infected mosquitoes. The virus is not transmitted to humans directly through birds or from humans or other animals. Although the virus can occasionally cause encephalitis (severe disease), most human infections are mild, resulting in fever, headache and body aches that last only a few days. Symptoms of encephalitis ( inflammation of the brain ) include a high fever, neck stiffness, stupor, disorientation, coma or convulsions. Encephalitis associated with the WNV is rare, but it does occur, and persons over age 50 are at greater risk.