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Fifth Case of West Nile Confirmed in Erie County

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – The Erie County Health Department says there is a fifth human case of the West Nile virus. It is the first case reported in the city of Buffalo.

A 76-year-old Buffalo man is being treated at the Erie County Medical Center for a high fever and altered mental status -- symptoms of the West Nile Virus. Jack Schwartz, an epidemiologist with the County Health Department, says they are trying to determine risk factors for all five cases reported in the county.

"As a general rule, we take two steps. We look at the person and also involve our environmental team," Schwartz explained. "They look at the resident's address to examine conditions that might have been conducive to mosquito growth."

Even though it is the end of the summer season, the County Health department says this case should remind residents to be cautious while outdoors when mosquitos are biting. Schwartz says while the first frost of fall will end mosquito activity, the winter months is a time when mosquitos prepare to hatch for a new season.

"We do know from past experience that there is an over wintering process," he continued. "Even though there are no live mosquitoes, the larva and eggs grow over the winter and we will probably face the same problem next spring."

Forty-six human cases of the West Nile virus have been reported statewide.

County health officials say most people do not become seriously ill from the virus. Eighty percent of those bitten by an infected mosquito won't experience symptoms. Eighteen percent might run a slight fever and only a small percentage will be severely effected by the West Nile virus.