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Human cases of West Nile virus are rising, some hospitalized

August 27, 2021 GMT

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Human cases of the mosquito-borne West Nile virus are on the rise in North Dakota, with the severity of symptoms resulting in some hospitalizations, according to state health officials.

So far, five people have confirmed cases, with four in the hospital, as well as two of six people with pending cases. The confirmed cases are in Cass, Mercer, Sargeant and Stutsman counties, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Common symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, body aches or rash. People with severe cases may experience a stiff neck, altered mental status, paralysis, coma and possibly death, health officials said. Most people infected with West Nile experience no symptoms.

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The number of West Nile cases in North Dakota varies year by year with seven confirmed human cases last year and nine in 2019. But in 2018 there were 204.

“Peak WNV activity historically has occurred in August,” state Department of Health epidemiologist Amanda Bakken said. “This is the time to be vigilant and take precautions, not just when people are aware mosquitoes are biting them.”

Three of the five confirmed cases in people this year have affected the nervous system.

“Because our cases have had particularly severe symptoms ... it is especially important that people protect themselves,” Bakken said.