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State officials probe possible West Nile cases

BOAZ (AP) — State health officials are investigating whether a Marshall County woman has died from West Nile virus and say a second person might have contracted the mosquito-borne virus.

Sondra Nassetta, surveillance nurse for Area 2 of the Alabama Department of Public Health in Decatur, said the two cases are "highly suspicious" of the disease and more lab tests are pending "to be sure of the diagnosis."

There were not any cases reported in the state as of Tuesday, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Two Alabamians died from the virus in 2005, but there have been no fatalities in the state since then linked to West Nile.

The Sand Mountain Reporter reported that Joan Elizabeth Walker, 76, died Saturday from complications from West Nile virus with encephalitis.

Nassetta said while she could not confirm the name because of confidentiality rules, the victim was a woman and the other case is a man who apparently contracted the virus but was not hospitalized.

Both victims began having symptoms of West Nile virus in early July, Nassetta said.

The virus can't be carried from person to person and is usually transmitted by a mosquito bite. Symptoms include an abrupt onset of headaches, fever, nausea, a stiff neck, achiness and fatigue.

Nassetta encouraged those who suddenly get headaches or a fever for no other apparent reason to see their doctor.

"The risk of developing the disease is more prevalent with people older than 60," she said. "Most of the time, if you get the disease, you can get over it in about seven days."


Information from: The Huntsville Times,

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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