The Memphis and Shelby County Health Department, in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Health (TDH) announced today the 6th human case of West Nile Virus (WNV) in a male resident of Shelby County. The TDH Laboratory in Nashville confirmed positive results for WNV. The individual became infected in late August and was admitted to a local hospital where he has been treated and is recovering.
The confirmation of the latest 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. Currently, this makes seven cases of WNV in Tennessee; with six in Shelby County. The Centers for Disease and Prevention has reported 1,508 human cases nationwide, with 45 deaths as of September 17, 2004. No deaths reported in Tennessee as of this time.
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.