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West Nile virus case reported in Freeborn County

Published 11:10am Friday, September 20, 2013

A Minnesota Department of Health map updated this week confirmed there have been 49 cases of the West Nile virus thus far this year across the state — including one case in Freeborn County.

Cases have been reported in 25 counties, and two cases resulted in death, according to the data.

In Freeborn County, the West Nile virus case was reported in a man older than 70 who became ill in mid- to late summer, said Doug Schultz, spokesman for the Department of Health. He declined to release additional details.

In south-central Minnesota, one case was reported in Faribault County, and two cases were reported in Blue Earth County.

No cases have been reported in Waseca, Steele or Mower counties.

“Mosquito activity and numbers are on the decline for the season, but if people are concerned about symptoms they should call their healthcare provider,” Schultz said.

According to the Department of Health, between 70 and 80 percent of people infected with the West Nile virus will have no symptoms, and one in five people have a relatively mild illness with a fever.

Less than 1 percent of people infected, especially elderly patients, may develop meningitis or encephalitis. Of those, about 10 percent of the encephalitis cases are fatal.

Most of the severe cases begin with a sudden onset of fever, headache, neck stiffness and vomiting. The illness progresses quickly to include confusion, altered reflexes, convulsions and comas, according to the Health Department website.

The virus was historically found in Africa and southern Europe and was first reported in North America during a 1999 outbreak of encephalitis in New York City.

It was first reported in Minnesota in 2002. Since, there have been 535 cases across the state.

There were 70 cases reported in 34 counties in 2012.

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