The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday that a 51-year-old in Douglas County had symptoms of West Nile virus. It is a virus of the genus Flavivirus antigenically closely related to Murray Valley virus, St. Louis encephalitis virus, and Japanese encephalitis virus, that causes West Nile encephalitis; it is transmitted by Culex mosquitoes, with wild birds serving as the reservoir and occurs widely in Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and already last 6 years present in the United States.

This is the first report about virus found in human, although other states have reported it in birds, animals and mosquitoes.

West Nile virus is transmitted to humans when a mosquito bites an infected animal, usually a bird, and then bites a human.

About 80 percent of people who are infected never show any symptoms. About 20 percent, as in the Douglas County case, show symptoms such as fever, muscle aches, headache, rash and weakness. About 1 in 150 people who are infected develop the serious form of the disease, which results in meningitis, encephalitis or acute flaccid paralysis. It can cause death.

The diagnosis of West Nile virus this year may be more difficult than in the past. That's because the antibodies produced in response to the virus stay in the body for a couple of years.

However, the doctor diagnosed West Nile Virus in Kansas case, based on symptoms that did not point to any other illness. These are only the preliminary tests that indicated West Nile virus, and we’ll know more about it in next few days.

Last year, Kansas reported nine serious cases of disease from West Nile virus and 37 probable milder cases. Two deaths were attributed to the virus.

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