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Woman's West Nile virus test is positive

October 09, 2002|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

A 67-year-old woman has become the first Washington County resident to test positive for West Nile virus, county Health Officer William Christoffel said Tuesday.

The woman, whose name was not released, did not require hospitalization and is recovering, Christoffel said.

Christoffel said the woman was tested for the virus in September after telling a doctor she was experiencing flu-like symptoms including weakness and aches in her leg.

Preliminary test results indicated the woman had the mosquito-borne virus but final test results were not made public until Tuesday when the information was listed on the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's Internet pages.

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People older than 50 and those with weak immune systems are most susceptible to medical problems related to the virus, said Laurie Bucher, the Washington County Health Department's director of environmental health.

Less than 1 percent of those who get the virus experience flu-like symptoms, such as fever, headache and muscle aches, health officials have said.

In rare cases, the virus can lead to high fever, disorientation and death, Bucher said.

Twenty-three Washington County residents have been tested for the virus, the state Health Department said.

In late September, Frederick County's health officer said a Myersville, Md., resident had become the first person in that county to contract the virus.

The Myersville resident was tested at Washington County Hospital after being taken there by ambulance.

Bucher said 34 birds and three horses in Washington County have tested positive for West Nile.

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