State health officials reported one new confirmed case and one new probable case of human West Nile virus in Churchill County Friday. In another development, a probable case diagnosed in late July has been confirmed as West Nile.
Lab tests confirmed West Nile virus has infected two individuals, one who is under age 50 and one who is older than 50. One had what is called West Nile fever and the second had the more severe form of the disease. Health officials will not release the gender of the victims. The case diagnosed in late July was a female over the age of 50, the Lahontan Valley News learned.
Nevada Health Department Spokeswoman Martha Framsted said the two confirmed cases of West Nile are home recovering. The new case that health officials are treating as probable has been sent to a lab in California for confirmation. Suspected human West Nile virus cases must be reported to the state by county health officers, hospitals and the local medical community.
Most people who contract West Nile virus will never know they are infected. About 20 percent of those who get the illness will exhibit flu-like symptoms consistent with West Nile fever, which include general malaise, possible headache and fever. Fewer than 1 percent of those infected become severely ill with meningitis or encephalitis. Those most at risk for the severe form of West Nile illness are the elderly and those whose immune systems are compromised.
"The good news is that most of us who become infected do not even know we have it," she said.
West Nile is almost always spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes are carriers that become infected when they feed on sick birds. The virus is not spread by casual contact such as touching and kissing.