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Mosquitoes test positive for West Nile at Frederick Co. park

August 26, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

MIDDLETOWN, Md. - Mosquitoes collected at Middletown Park off Coblentz Road tested positive for West Nile virus, according to a press release from the Frederick County Health Department.

There have been no confirmed human cases of West Nile virus in Frederick County since 2003, and there have been no confirmed cases in Maryland this year, according to the release.

The test results from the mosquitoes marked the first 2006 confirmed report of the virus in mosquitoes in Frederick County, according to the release.

West Nile virus is spread to humans by bites from infected mosquitoes, but cannot be spread from one person to another person, according to the release. Birds cannot directly transmit the virus to humans, according to the health department.

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Those who are more than 50 years old or who have compromised immune systems are more susceptible to develop a more severe disease from the virus, according to the release.

Most people are at low risk for disease; however, the health department warns that those who spend more time outdoors increase their chances of infection.

The most serious side effects include high fever, stiff neck, headache, stupor, disorientation, coma, tremors, convulsions, vision loss, numbness and paralysis, among others, according to the release.

Nearly 20 percent of those who become infected will develop West Nile fever, a mild illness, with symptoms ranging from fever, headache, body aches, nausea and vomiting to swollen lymph glands and skin rashes.

Symptoms for the West Nile fever appear within three to 15 days after a bite from an infected mosquito, according to the release.

The health department offers the following tips to avoid mosquitoes possibly infected:

· Avoid areas where mosquitoes have high infestation.

· Avoid unnecessary outdoor activities when mosquitoes are most active - at dawn and dusk.

· Wear light clothes, long pants and long-sleeved shirts when outdoors.

· Get rid of mosquito breeding areas. Empty standing water from pots, buckets and barrels; change your pet's water and replace birdbath water weekly. It also is suggested to keep children's wading pools empty and on their sides when not in use, unclog rain gutters and cover water that is stored outside.

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