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West Nile Virus Heat Spread*

August 9, 2002

Hot Weather Cited in Spread of a Virus


TLANTA, Aug. 8 (Reuters) — An unusually warm summer may be contributing to the nation's worst outbreak of West Nile virus since it appeared in this country three years ago, federal health officials said today.

Five people in Louisiana have died of encephalitis, a severe brain inflammation sometimes associated with the virus, and more than 100 others around the nation have been infected this summer, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. It noted that the bulk of the cases were in Louisiana, Texas and Mississippi, though isolated infections have been reported as far away as Illinois and Washington, D.C.

Dr. Lyle Petersen, a West Nile virus expert with the centers, said it was possible that high temperatures this summer had created an ideal incubator for mosquitoes, which pick up the virus from infected birds and spread it to humans.

"The kinds of mosquitoes that transmit West Nile virus like to breed in very small, murky pools of water, and during hot weather larger pools condense into smaller pools," Dr. Petersen said.

West Nile Virus Death Suspected

JACKSON, Miss., Aug. 8 (AP) — The death today of a Mississippi man was probably the result of the West Nile virus, said Ed Thompson, a state health officer. More testing is needed to confirm preliminary results, he said. The death would be the first outside of Louisiana in this outbreak.

(Original Len: 1707 Condensed Len: 1973)

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