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Sun, Dec. 08

Girl in county could have West Nile virus

Officials are awaiting confirmation from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

KINGMAN – County health officials are awaiting word from the Arizona Department of Health Services about whether a Mohave Valley girl will be the first confirmed case of West Nile virus in Mohave County.

"A blood sample (from the 10-year-old girl) was sent off and we expect to find out if it tests positive for the virus either Thursday or Friday," said Patty Mead, director of the Mohave County Department of Public Health.

The mother of the child said the girl had flu-like symptoms for two weeks in late June, according to a report in the Mohave Valley Daily News.

The illness began with a sore under one arm that developed into a rash.

The girl had a stiff neck and fever of 104 degrees on June 26, when she was taken to a hospital in Needles, Calif., where medical personnel suspected a case of spinal meningitis.

The girl was released June 29 and went home.

Her mother administered intravenous antibiotics until Friday, when a doctor called her with test results that indicated she had West Nile virus, the Mohave Valley Daily News reported.

That testing was done by the San Bernardino County (Calif.) Department of Public Health.

A call placed Wednesday afternoon to the Arizona Department of Health Services was not immediately returned.

The Mohave County Department of Public Health also learned Wednesday that the state health department has confirmed that a mosquito sample collected in Mohave Valley tested positive for West Nile virus.

Mosquito traps are set throughout the county and samples sent are sent weekly to the state health department for testing.

Mead said the county health department was to put out a press release today or Friday on the child if laboratory testing of the blood sample confirms presence of West Nile virus.

The virus is potentially life threatening in the elderly.

"About 80 percent of people who contract it have no symptoms and the other 20 percent show only mild symptoms," Mead said.

"A child usually has a good immune system, but the virus can lead to more serious complications."

West Nile Virus is not spread among humans, the Centers for Disease Control states.

The virus is believed passed on by mosquitoes that feed off infected birds.

Mosquitoes are most active at dawn and dusk.

People outdoors during those times are urged to wear mosquito repellent and long-sleeve shirts and pants, Mead said.

"If you're bitten and get flu-like symptoms such as headaches, body aches or swollen glands, see your doctor as soon as possible," Mead said.

Mosquitoes commonly breed in standing water that accumulates inside of discarded tires.

Water in outdoors containers such as children's pools, birdbaths and flower vases should be changed twice a week, a press release from the Mohave County Department of Public Health stated.

"Water that stands for three to four days is a good breeding ground for mosquitoes," Mead said.

"If we get a lot of monsoon water, that could aid them in breeding."

There is no specific treatment for the infection, nor is vaccine available for people infected with the virus, the press release stated.

For more information on West Nile virus, visit the health department's Web site at www.healthelinks.com.

There also is a toll-free information hotline, (866) 409-4099.

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